A species of alpine newt which has been found in three counties in Ireland is not considered an invasive species, according to minister of state Malcolm Noonan.
Mr Noonan was responding to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke, who asked the minister if he will report on the development of a new national invasive species management plan, considering that the alpine newt has been found in Ireland.
Mr Noonan said that the development of a national invasive alien species management plan is a priority for his department and work is underway.
“The National Parks and Wildlife Service will report to me in the coming weeks with updates on progress in this matter,” he added.
Mr Noonan went on to say that the alpine newt is not listed as an invasive species in Ireland.
According to Rob Gandola, senior science officer at the Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI), the threat that these newts carry is due to a disease called chytrid.
“Alpine newts are known to be vectors of two particularly nasty fungi (chytrid), which attack amphibians all over the world now. Native species can be susceptible to these fungi,” said Mr Gandola.
According to Mr Gandola, there are four separate groups of these newts found in Ireland, two in Down, one in Tipperary, and one in Offaly.
The person who discovered the first of these groups was Éinne Ó Cathasaigh, an ecologist who works with the HSI.
“I found the first breeding established population in the country,” said Mr Ó Cathasaigh.
“The disease it carries is really bad. It is indicated that it is present in 40% of the extinction events of amphibians, globally," he added.
Mr Ó Cathasaigh. asked that anyone who spots alpine newts, report it to the HSI.