TG4 ‘Dying Out’ series to highlight threat to Ireland’s wildlife

The yellowhammer — in danger of extinction?

The yellowhammer — in danger of extinction?

A new six-part nature series, to be broadcast on TG4 from next week, will chart species of Irish wildlife under threat in Galway and in other areas of the country, wildlife which is in danger of joining those animals which have fallen into extinction.

The series, Ag Dul in Éag or Dying Out, takes a broader look at threatened Irish wildlife and recounts the facinating stories of how some of Ireland’s species suffered total annihilation. Featuring the music of Galway city man John Finn, the series is produced by County Clare based Waxwing Productions and explores the extinction of animals such as the brown bear, the wolf, and the wild boar many years ago and the danger that is posed to wildlife today, in particular water birds in Galway, for example the yellowhammer.

According to wildlife expert and director of Waxwing Wildlife Productions, John Murphy: “Some of our most interesting species have been decimated; whether centuries ago or in the past few hundred years. The wolf, the wild boar, the Eurasian crane and the brown bear were once plentiful in our woodlands, waterways and caves. Some were hunted out of extinction either by directive or demand, such as the wolf and the wild boar, whilst others fell prey to the clearance of our woodlands, such as the brown bear, the capercaille and the red squirrel. Whereas there are many other species such as the eel, the little tern, the bittern and the yellowhammer currently clinging on for their lives on our island nation.

“The clearance of our native oak woods played a large part in the drumming echo of the woodpecker disappearing from our forests centuries ago. But in the past decade we have seen the return of these colourful birds to many areas of the countryside. This is a very welcome development and in this series we will explore what has contributed to this resurgence.”

Mr Murphy further explained that the introduction of non-indigenous species into the countryside can also have a negative effect on rare and precious species. He said: “To eradicate a species once is regrettable, but to allow it to disappear for a second time is simply irresponsible. This could be the fate of our native red squirrel. In the past the clearance of our native woodlands and the open killing spree that was waged on the red squirrel decimated this cute little mammal. But after the English restocked the countryside with them, the introduction of a non-native grey squirrel from America in the 1800s once again put them in danger of survival. If these aggressive grey squirrels aren’t kept in check they will very soon eradicate our native reds, as has happened in Britain. Another example would be how the introduction of mink to the wilds of Donegal is severely endangering the survival of red-throated divers in the area.”

Ongoing efforts to ensure the protection and preservation of other species such as the arctic char, Irish pollan, the red-throated divers, the Irish red deer, the grey partridge and the little tern are also charted in this series. The strong links to Irish folklore that many of the extinct species have is also explored, a reminder of the unique and once integral part they played in the Irish countryside.

Ag Dul in Éag will broadcast on TG4 on Tuesday November 8 at 8pm and will be repeated Sunday at 9pm. For more information on the series log onto www.waxwingfilms.ie

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