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Battle to save Irish corncrakes costs State €400,000

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Corncrake

Corncrake

The State has spent more than €400,000 this year on the battle to save the corncrake from national extinction.

New fi gures provided by the Department of Arts and Heritage show that €408,948 has been paid out - with the vast bulk going to farmers - as the numbers of corncrake calling males reached the highest number recorded in 21 years of population monitoring under the Corncrake Conservation Project.

The 230 calling males recorded last summer represent a 22pc increase on the figures recorded in 2013.

Over the past three years, as the decline of the corncrake has been reversed, the State spend on the various conservation measures has totalled €1.728m.

A department note included in information released under the Freedom of Information Act says that "not only has the decline in corncrake numbers been halted nationally, but there is a resurgence in Donegal and Mayo.

"The Shannon Callows remains a concern, however, with summer flooding over the past decade taking a particular toll on numbers there."

The €408,948 spend for the first 11 months of this year is almost €200,000 less than the €597,779 spent last year on corncrake conservation measures and a 43pc decline on the €722,237 spent in 2012.

strongholds

The largest proportion of the money is going to farmers in the population strongholds in Connacht and Donegal.

This year, farmers across the country received payments totalling €234,734 made up of €174,786 in Corncrake Grant Scheme payments and €59,948 in Farm Plan Payments.

The programme spend for this year also includes €88,913 spent on a predator programme aimed at eliminating the threat posed by mink and foxes to the corncrakes that nest in fields and other creatures.

Corncrake fieldworkers received €72,925 while farm planner fees totalled €12,373.

Participating farmers are asked in effect to farm corncrakes with no grazing on designated fields after March 15 each year.

Farmers are not allowed to cut grass in the designated fields before August 15.

The top payment to a farmer this year was €6,312 and went to an individual in Co Offaly. One other farmer in Westmeath received €6,124

hnews@herald.ie


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