| 17.8°C Dublin

Native animals 'at risk of extinction' as pollution and over-fishing take toll

SOME of Ireland's native animals are on the brink of extinction because of pollution and over-fishing.

Several bird species, including the common scoter, black-necked grebe, quail, red-necked phalarope and nightjar are under threat, while kestrels and skylarks are also declining "significantly".

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report says just 7pc of habitats and 39pc of species listed as needing protection by the EU have a "favourable" status.

It also says that despite the introduction of a drift-net fishing ban, the wild Atlantic salmon is at risk because of water pollution -- along with the freshwater pearl mussel and the natterjack toad.

More than 15pc of species of Irish water beetle, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies are also at risk, while some bat species, otters and the native red squirrel are threatened.

The report blames poor drainage and reclamation of wetlands, badly sited housing, overgrazing, over-fishing, pollution and turf cutting for putting creatures at risk.

It says the Government must designate sites containing wildlife, flora and fauna as national heritage areas. Failing to invest could result in EU fines, and "a reputational cost that would impact on our national green branding".

Irish Independent