Twelve ‘critically endangered’ curlew chicks hatch at Fota Wildlife Park

More Eurasian curlews expected to hatch in coming weeks as part of a conservation initiative

Twelve “critically endangered” Eurasian curlew chicks have hatched at Fota Wildlife Park in Co Cork, with more chicks expected to hatch in the coming weeks as part a conservation initiative.

The chicks hatched from 31 viable eggs, which were collected in the wild in locations across Ireland as part of the Breeding Waders European Innovation Partnership (EIP) programme.

Fota Wildlife Park is engaged in various headstarting conservation initiatives for endangered species, including the native curlew. Headstarting conservation sees endangered species raised in an environment where they are isolated from predators, before being set free in the wild.

At Fota, chicks are raised until they are capable of flying. They will then be released back to their native habitats. Curlews can live for up to 32 years.

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Declan O’Donovan, animal care manager at Fota Wildlife Park, said that the curlew was once a common sight in Ireland’s bogs and wetlands, but is now critically endangered, “having experienced a staggering 98 per cent decline since the 1970s”.

“This alarming trend places the breeding curlew on the brink of extinction. At Fota Wildlife Park, we are deeply committed to this conservation project, as protecting native species is a priority,” he said.

Fota Wildlife Park is also engaged in the conservation of the natterjack toad. To date, over 9,000 toadlets have been reared at the park, before being released back to their native habitat in Co Kerry.

The Breeding Waders European Innovation Partnership (EIP) programme is jointed funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist