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Wing and a prayer: 97pc fall in curlew numbers

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Call to action: Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan with Dr Barry O'Donoghue of the Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service at the launch of 'World Curlew Day'. Photo: MAXWELLS

Call to action: Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan with Dr Barry O'Donoghue of the Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service at the launch of 'World Curlew Day'. Photo: MAXWELLS

Call to action: Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan with Dr Barry O'Donoghue of the Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service at the launch of 'World Curlew Day'. Photo: MAXWELLS

Conservationists have issued a call to action to help preserve the native curlew, which has seen its population decline by 97pc since the 80s.

The Curlew Conservation Programme set up two years ago has recently stepped up its efforts.

A 21-member team of contractors has now begun a programme of work throughout the country in conjunction with farmers, landowners and communities to prevent the extinction of the curlew.

The programme, being led by Dr Barry O'Donoghue, of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is now calling on members of the public to know the sound of the curlew and to report any sightings.

"The beautiful bubbling call of the curlew has always been a soundtrack to the Irish summer, but has sadly fallen silent across much of the countryside.

"To lose the curlew would be like losing a big part of Ireland - like our music, our landscape or identity," he added.

"We are working closely with landowners and local communities to help the last remaining curlew rear their young.

"We have a dedicated and hard-working team engaged in parts of Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan and Donegal.

"And we are supporting local community projects elsewhere."

Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Minister Josepha Madigan launched World Curlew Day, which will take place this Sunday, and flags will be flown in honour of the vulnerable species at council and school buildings.

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