A local businessman has expressed his immense ire pertaining to a wildlife incident which resulted in the deaths of a duck at Coosan Point in recent times.
Kevin Ryan of KR Hygiene was on his daily visit to the popular amenity to feed the local wildlife on the shores of Lough Ree when a motorist came into view and in his opinion, drove the vehicle in a deliberate manner towards the hapless ducks.
“I would be a regular visitor to Coosan Point where I, along with numerous local families, like to feed the wildlife. On the day in question however, I noticed a motorist drive at high speed towards the slipway with no care for the three ducks in clear view. It was a truly horrific to witness and with children in the immediate vicinity this incident could have been of a far more serious nature,” Kevin stated.
Urging members of the public to be more vigilant of such occurences, Kevin contacted the local authority where his concerned views were relayed to the South Westmeath Conservation Ranger, Therese Kelly.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser, Therese noted that the incident “both shocking and upsetting in nature” was not of an isolated manner.
“It was both shocking and upsetting to receive a report from a concerned member of the public with regard to a car which drove into several mallard ducks at Coosan Point and then sped away. That was the second incident and fourth duck mortality reported from that particular location on the day noted.
“Coosan Point forms part of Lough Ree Special Protection Area (SPA ). The intention of the SPA is to ensure the long term conservation of wetlands and waterbirds there. Mallards are one of 14 species that are given special mention as a ‘qualifying interest’ of the SPA.
“NPWS would like to take this opportunity to remind users of the area to be mindful of the wildlife there, keep dogs on leads and report incidents of wilful disturbance of wildlife to NPWS. Although the duck and swans may appear quite tame to users of the area they are still vulnerable to disturbance. This unfortunate incident highlights the worst outcome of disturbance, fatality.
“Coosan Point is also a sensitive botanical area. It hosts a small population of a rare orchid called the narrow leaved helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia ). It was first officially recorded there in 1969 although Westmeath records date back to 1891 on some of the islands. It is so rare it is protected under the Flora (Protection ) Order, 2015 and is classed as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction in the Red Data List of Vascular Plants 2016. It is estimated the total population of narrow leaved helleborine is less than 1000 individuals in Ireland.
“If something positive can be borne from the recent duck tragedies let it be that all of us are more mindful in how we use Coosan Point and that our lives are enriched when we appreciate that we are in the home of rare and vulnerable species there and we should respect that,” Therese asserted.