The Boleybrack Red Grouse Habitat Management Project - a wildlife conservation initiative Glenfarne is leading “the national drive” to increase and conserve Irish birds and wildlife.
In just five years the project which has survived on the hard work and dedication of volunteers form the Glenfarne Gun club has increased twelve-fold from just three small birds in 2007 to over 35 this year.
The project was one of the first in the country to take on the issue in a dedicated aspect, involving all local groups, farmers, and national associations. The Glenfarne Gun Club are also one of the most successful clubs in this area and as a result members of the project are helping to develop the national plan to increase wild Irish birds, the project has also spurred on the establishment of other similar projects elsewhere.
As a reward for their hard work the project received a major boost in funding (provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Controls) for the appointment of Grousekeeper for 12 months. John Carslake, an experienced Grousekeeper took up his new role in March and it is hoped his experience will help further increase Red Grouse and conserve the habitat. But the Gun club members will still volunteer their time to the cause along with the help of Conservation Ranger Fiona Wheeldon and technical assistance and advice from The Golden Eagle Trust to try and implement all the monitoring and control techniques.
Eamonn Brennan of the Glenfarne Gun Club told the paper there are a number of reasons for the decline in Red Grouse. He said nationally the decline is due to the lose of their habitat – mainly heather.
Forestry is one of the culprits as well as wildfires which completely destroy the heather for long periods of time, also an increase of prey such as foxes, birds of prey and sadly our well known wet Summers.
Ireland has one of the lowest numbers of breeding bird species in Europe. The Government is now required and encouraged to restore extinct species. A great deal of work has been done nationally in recent years for lost species such as Golden Eagle and Corncrake and threatened species Curlew, Golden Plover, and Irish Red Grouse are now in need of urgent help.
Red Grouse are on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland, due to a decline in their breeding range of over 70% in the past 40 years. Boleybrack Mountain is located north of Lough Allen and lies between the towns of Drumkeerin, Manorhamilton and Blacklion with a large portion overlooking the parish of Glenfarne. Most of Boleybrack Mountain is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive. SACs are prime wildlife conservation areas.
Full details of the conservation project in The Leitrim Observer Newspaper.