Endangering birds

Published: Tuesday 15 February 2000

ireland has been hauled up by the European Commission ( ec ) for its failure to curb sheep overgrazing at a key conservation site in County Mayo. This has endangered the existence of Ireland's most threatened birds, the Red Grouse, whose mainstay the heather plant is the worst affected by overgrazing. The ec has indicted the Irish government under the Wild Birds Directive, a law that protects important bird habitats.

The allegation against Ireland is that the government has allowed overgrazing by sheep in many areas in County Mayo, including the Owenduff-Nephin Beg Complex. This conservation site was designed, in part, to protect the Red Grouse. Commenting on the move by the European Union ( eu ), Frank Corcoran, an Irish environmentalist, said: "It's not a surprise because Ireland is in breach of many eu environmental directives, particularly those related to habitats." He further said that many environmentalists in Ireland were happy with the eu decision and hoped that it would awaken government officials to the importance of environmental laws.

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