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Curlew may become extinct within next decade

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The curlew population here has been dwindling for decades with numbers down from 5,000 in the 1980s to an all-time low of less than 100 breeding pairs today. (Photo: Abi Warner)

The curlew population here has been dwindling for decades with numbers down from 5,000 in the 1980s to an all-time low of less than 100 breeding pairs today. (Photo: Abi Warner)

The curlew population here has been dwindling for decades with numbers down from 5,000 in the 1980s to an all-time low of less than 100 breeding pairs today. (Photo: Abi Warner)

The Government is seeking to hire conservationists to help prevent the extinction of the iconic wading bird the Eurasian curlew within the next decade.

The migratory bird, with its distinctive long legs and long, downward curved beak, is under serious threat of extinction due to predation and farming practises and “may become extinct as a breeding species in Ireland within 5-10 years” according to a tweet from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

There are just over a hundred pairs of the birds in the Republic which has seen a 97pc decline in the bird’s population here since 1990.

To avert the extinction of the species – which is also listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the Red List of Threatened Species by the global International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine set up a joint initiative this year with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to save the birds from extinction.

The departments are now seeking conservationists to work with the Curlew Conservation Programme that was established in 2017. The National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Agri-Ecology Unit has put out tenders for a number of roles aimed at protecting existing curlews from further threats to their survival and conserving them as a species.

The programme involves locally-based teams of advisors, community engagement and nest protection officers who work with landowners and other local interests to protect the curlew’s nesting attempts and to improve habitat quality.

"The programme places the landowner and the birds at the centre of all considerations, with key goals of giving the curlews a better chance of rearing chicks and stopping the population sliding further towards extinction,” according to the Curlew Protection Programme.

Last year, it focussed on nine areas in Ireland that are key breeding grounds, including : The Stack’s Mountains in Kerry, Lough Ree, Roscommon/Mayo, Leitrim, north Monaghan, Donegal, Lough Corrib, Slieve Aughties and Laois/Kildare.

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