Friday 20 April 2018

€250,000 to be spent protecting our endangered Natterjack toads

Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita)
Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita)

Gordon Deegan

The State is spending €250,000 in a bid to restore Ireland's only native toad, the Natterjack, to its former glory.

The endangered Natterjack is found in a small area in Kerry and one site in Wexford.

Currently, the State is committed to paying €48,000 per annum to a small group of farmers and landowners who manage new breeding sites for the Natterjack in Co Kerry.

A total of €96,000 has been paid out to date with the State committed to spending a further €144,000 over the next three years of the five-year project.

Now, the spend is set to increase even more with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirming yesterday that it is seeking tenders for the Natterjack monitoring project until 2018. There are an estimated 9,000 Natterjack adults in Ireland and they are protected under the EU Habitats Directive.

Adults measure between 60mm and 70mm in length and have a distinctive yellow line down the middle of the back. They can live up to 15 years.

Prof Mark Emmerson of Queen's University, an expert on the Natterjack, said the project "is money well spent".

"There is a legal requirement on states in the EU to improve the status of Natterjack toads," he said, adding Ireland risks facing legal action and potential fines from the EU if the population declines.

He said that the 'chirruping' of the Natterjack toads can be heard from more than 1km away, while the mating calls of the male can be heard from great distances.

Irish Independent

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