Minister Malcolm Noonan has supported a full investigation by An Garda Siochana into the causes of a major fire at Curraghline bog in County Galway.
The site is an important habitat for breeding waders including the critically endangered Curlew.
Responding to calls by Birdwatch Ireland to investigate the cause of the fire as a possible wildlife crime, Minister Noonan said that he had immediately tasked NPWS staff to work with An Garda Siochana in its investigation of the cause of the fire. He added that these fires don’t start by themselves .
He said NPWS takes these matters very seriously and in recent weeks announced increased surveillance using drones and helicopters on key natural heritage sites and our National Parks.
“This Galway fire is devastating news for all involved in conservation efforts to save the Curlew, particularly those invested in the Curlew EIP project at Curraghline,” said Minister Noonan.
He said that a thorough investigation would need to be carried out and he thanked fire and emergency services of Galway County Council and NPWS staff who attended the scene to bring the fire under control.
“This is a particularly dangerous time of year for fires in our natural heritage areas and we urge the public to report suspicious activity and to be vigilant themselves while using our National Parks and nature reserves. We are in the depths of a biodiversity emergency and cannot afford to lose any more habitats to fire.”
Minister Noonan added that there will be increased aerial and ground surveillance in the coming days as a preventative measure.
Photo from Agriland.ie