The National Roads Authority (NRA) is being forced to spend thousands of euro to protect low-flying barn owls because of mounting road kill.
The barn owl is red-listed as a ‘bird of conservation concern’ and its range has declined by 39% over a 40-year period in the latest study available.
According to the NRA, over the past number of years barn owl mortality on a number of road types throughout the country has been recorded, particularly on the motorway network.
The NRA tender documents state that several recent studies have linked the improvement of the national road network to barn owl population decreases, although the NRA states that the extent to which other factors impact barn owls at a population level and have contributed to the declines are not fully understood.
The documents state: “Due to their specific hunting characteristics, ie low flight and poor peripheral vision, barn owls are especially vulnerable to vehicle collision, and some studies to assess avian mortality on roads have recorded barn owls as the most frequently affected species.
“Vehicle collisions have been the most frequently recorded cause of barn owl mortality; however, there is the potential to overestimate this cause of death.”
According to the NRA, the report will determine the impact of major road networks on the barn owl population in Ireland and also develop specific evidence-based mitigation recommendations in collaboration with the NRA to reduce, if necessary, the impacts of major road networks on barn owls.
A detailed report is to be lodged with the NRA at the end of the study.
The NRA has given parties until June 12 by which to lodge tenders, with the contact award due to made in July/August of this year.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved