Tuesday 20 August 2019

Caution, Squirrels Crossing: Calls for rope bridge to help endangered animals cross the road

The Red Squirrel
The Red Squirrel
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Concerned nature lovers in Co Limerick are calling for the installation of a flyover rope bridge to protect local squirrels - after up to 40 red squirrels were killed on a road in the last two years.

Signs have already been installed on the R511 to warn motorists: "Caution, Squirrels Crossing". The signs are thought to be the first of their kind in the country.

But Tom McNamara from Friarstown, Ballysheedy, Co Limerick, said flyover rope bridges are also needed.

The red squirrel has been under threat ever since its brasher, more industrious counterpart - the grey squirrel - arrived from the US about 100 years ago.

Tom said locals went to special efforts to maintain the habitat in Ballysheedy and encourage wildlife back into the area.

On average 40 squirrels have been killed on the road over two years, he said.

“I contacted the National Parks and Wildlife service and sent them photographic evidence of what was happening,” he told Morning Ireland.

“I requested both signs and a rope bridge initially – the rope bridge is in places like Scotland, the UK and Belgium. They allow the squirrel to cross the road and get to the other side.”

“Since the signs went up I’ve seen three [dead squirrels on the road], but over the last two years, I’ve seen around 40.”

“The squirrels were there years and years ago, and then they got depleted, and [local people] maintained the habitat, planted trees, and the wildlife started to come back.”

Meanwhile, Kildare County Council became the first council to erect an "Otters Crossing" sign recently.

The signs were erected along the Kilcock to Maynooth Road to warn passing motorist that they may encounter an otter moving between the Rye River and the Royal Canal as they forage for food.

The signs were put up following requests from the public and under advice from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the council said.

"There has been a large number of mortalities on this stretch of road in recent years. These protected species, while shy, are often on the move at dusk and dawn and may not be seen by passing cars. Estimated at about 12,000 otters, the current Irish population is declining. Otters are protected by Irish (Wildlife Acts 1976, 2000), and European law (EU Habitats Directive.)," the council said on its Facebook page yesterday.


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