Good year for ‘toad farmers’

Farmers have been congratulated for their role in the recovery of the endangered natterjack toads in Co Kerry.
Good year for ‘toad farmers’

A huge abundance of young toadlets emerging from breeding sites in the Iveragh and Dingle peninsulas has been recorded by staff of the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

The frog-like amphibians were categorised as endangered in the recent All-Ireland Red List, and their conservation status was assessed as unfavourable in Ireland’s recent national report to the European Commission.

By the 1980s, the toads were found only in Co Kerry, in the Castlegregory area and about 10 isolated locations around Castlemaine.

This year, a very wet May and a warm start to June boosted toad breeding and tadpole survival.

“Toads are naturally a boom or bust species,” said Dr Ferdia Marnell of the Department’s Scientific Unit.

“2014 has been the best year I ever remember, and I’ve been studying them for nearly 20 years.”

In 2008, grant aid was introduced to pay farmers to dig and manage ponds for toads, and 96 new ponds have been dug in Co Kerry.

Twenty of these ponds have been colonised naturally by toads.

Ex-Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, welcomed the news.

“We are legally obliged to bring the natterjack into favourable conservation status, so I am delighted to hear that the toads are doing so well this year. The local farmers have played an important role in providing and managing habitat for this rare animal and it is rewarding to see that effort paying dividends.”

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