Republic of Ireland news

Calls for rope bridges to save Limerick squirrels

Calls have been made to erect rope bridges across a busy Co Limerick road to save squirrels' lives

WORRIED nature buffs are calling for rope bridges to be erected for squirrels over a busy Co Limerick road.

Residents in Ballysheedy have asked the Republic’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to put up special bridges over the R511 after becoming concerned that up to 40 squirrels had been knocked down and killed in just two years.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Tom McNamara, from Friarstown, said that signs urging motorists to be alert for squirrels crossing had recently been erected by Limerick City and County Council.

However, Mr McNamara, who first started campaigning two years ago, said the authorities needed to go a step further and put up rope bridges after he found three more squirrels since the signs appeared.

He said rope bridges were already being used successfully in countries like Scotland and Belgium.

“The squirrels were there years and years ago, and then their numbers got depleted… then [local residents] maintained habitats, planted trees, and the wildlife started to come back after all these measures had been taken,” he said.

Red squirrel numbers had plummeted across Ireland since the introduction of its North American grey cousin to Co Longford in 1911, however they have been making a comeback in many areas in recent years.


Meanwhile, Kildare County Council has taken steps to protect its local otter population by erecting signs warning motorists to drive with care.

The local authority said on its Facebook page that the Maynooth Area Office had erected otter signs along the Kilcock to Maynooth Road “to warn passing motorist that they may encounter an otter moving between the Rye River and the Royal Canal as they forage for food”.

“There has been a large number of mortalities on this stretch of road in recent years. These protected species, while shy, are often on the move at dusk and dawn and may not be seen by passing cars. Estimated at about 12,000 otters, the current Irish population is declining,” they said.

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