Monday, 27 February 2012

3rd March Mammal Conservation Workshop

Dublin IWT Blog – MISE Project
Sarah Rubalcava

On the 3rd March, members of the Dublin Branch joined Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council volunteers in a joint venture called the MISE Project. We met at 9.30 am in Marley House, Rathfarnham. The grandeur of the rooms seemed fitting for the important business of conserving some of Ireland’s small mammals.

Mammals in a Sustainable Environment (MISE) Project (an EU funded project covering parts of Ireland and Wales) is an exciting new project and breathes fresh air into any person interested in wildlife and conservation. The project partners on the Irish side include Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Waterford County Council and the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Conserving and monitoring biodiversity, sharing skills across the border region, local communities and volunteers are firmly at the heart of this initiative.

In Ireland, otters, pine marten, red squirrels, bats and other small mammals are being surveyed and monitored. The MISE Project is using non-invasive methods to survey these animals. These non-invasive methods include the collection of hair tube samples for squirrels, otter spraints and pine marten scats (otter and pine marten poo in other words!) and bat droppings. The Dublin Branch will be developing the otter and red squirrel surveys over the coming months.

Before heading out on the field training part of the day, we were given an overview of present status and ecology of pine martens, squirrels and otters.
Sadly due to the recent discovery of squirrel pox in the Dublin Mountains, hair tubes surveys will not be used but instead it is hoped that visual surveys can be carried out.

After the talks we headed out and walked a length of the small river in Marley Park and managed to find otter spraints and a footprint or so we were told. We then travelled to the local Coillte forests at Ticknock where we found signs of red squirrels eating. Earlier that day, we were told that the forests still had red squirrels and it is hoped that squirrel pox doesn’t impact too heavily on the locals.

When the day concluded this is what one participant said:

“It was a really fun morning and I learned way more about otter surveying through the hands-on approach of this training day than I could ever have from a book.” - Aoife.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience, meet like-minded people and to be more proactive in conserving Ireland’s biodiversity. (photos courtesy of Joy)

Looking for otter poo
Otter tracks

Nibbled by red squirrel

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