Our wildlife heritage must be valued

Irish politicians need to educate themselves about the value of Ireland’s multi-faceted wildlife heritage, instead of encouraging its gratuitous destruction.

Three years ago a senator called for the killing of seagulls, citing their supposed anti-social activities in parts of Dublin and demonising them to the point that images of the Luftwaffe strafing the country’s beaches and bombing the rubbish tips of our capital began to form in people’s minds.

Then you had another politician urging an all-out assault on the pine martin, our rarest mammal that is close enough to extinction without such misguided political “intervention.”

Rare peregrine falcons and white-tailed eagles have been poisoned and shot following scaremongering in some rural communities by quasi-political hotheads who routinely blame, without evidence, these protected birds for attacks on sheep.

Now another brave politician is railing against our long-suffering wildlife: Claiming that bats are holding up the building of a reservoir, an independent Cork councilor has suggested that “we should shoot all the bats and get rid of them”.

The fact that bats are protected under both Irish and EU conservation law seems not to bother him.

Then again, these wayward politicians are not being set a great example by the ones in power who ought to know better: Under the Department of Agriculture’s failed Bovine TB Eradication Scheme, an estimated 120,000 badgers (a supposedly protected species) have already been snared and killed in the countryside, and a few weeks ago the heritage minister issued a licence permitting another coursing season, resulting in thousands of hares being snatched from their habitats and forced to run from dogs in the hail, rain and howling winds.

Thanks to political inaction, foxes can be chased to exhaustion and ripped to pieces for a cheap thrill, with no law (however weak) to protect them.

Our politicians need to be taken for an educational “walk on the wild side” to help them appreciate a unique and irreplaceable bio-heritage that so many of them, in their ignorance, deem worthless or expendable.

John Fitzgerald


Co Kilkenny

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