500 pairs of mating frogs under threat in Dublin's Phoenix Park

Survival of a generation of frogs now in danger, warns Herpetological Society

Frogs appear with frogspawn in a pond near Shankill, Co Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Frogs appear with frogspawn in a pond near Shankill, Co Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


“Incalculable damage” has been done by drainage works in Dublin’s Phoenix Park to breeding populations of frogs and newts, the Herpetological Society of Ireland has said.

The society has complained to the Office of Public Works, which manages the park, following the clearance of a canal-sized drainage ditch by track machines in recent days.

Up to 500 pairs of mating frogs were recorded by the society as being present in the drainage ditch of the south lake, close to Ordnance Survey Road, in the park during last year’s mating season. The society said newts were also there in “significant numbers”.

Both species are protected under Irish and EU law.

Yesterday, much of the vegetation torn from the water lay in mounds on the bank of the ditch. Track machines could be seen parked nearby.

The society said newts laid their eggs in the vegetation at this time of year while frogs sheltered under the leaves. The removal of this cover meant the frog pairs were now likely to be “picked off” by herons, crows and magpies, it said.

Society spokesman Collie Ennis said the survival of a generation of frogs in the Phoenix Park was now in danger and incalculable harm had been done to overall populations of the animals in the park.

“Yesterday we went to survey the frog and newt breeding site, which is one of the last of its kind in the city, only to find that it had been completely destroyed by dredging,” he said.

“All the aquatic vegetation had been removed which was vital for providing cover for frogs and newts breeding in this site. Now they will be wiped out by predators, possibly spelling the end of these isolated populations.”

Mr Ennis said he could not believe such a thing was deliberate but said accidental removal of habitat was no excuse.

He said the level of legal protection meant even volunteers helping to rescue the frogs and newts would need a licence before they could intervene. But he said despite having contacted the OPW in recent days with an offer to help save the colonies, they had heard nothing.

The OPW was contacted but did not provide a comment last night.