Friday, March 1st 2013

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Caring For Wild Animals

Please note that many species of mammals, birds, invertebrates etc... are protected under law and that, even with the best of intentions, only someone holding a relevant licence from the National Parks & Wildlife Service should attempt the care of these animals.  For full details, please click here to read the NPWS Checklist of protected & rare species in Ireland.  If you are concerned about a wild animal, please contact your local wildlife ranger - click here for details.

Events & Listings

Click here for a full list of events taking place around the country, and movies currently on release, which might be of interest to wildlife lovers!

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

Matthew Jebb, from the National Botanic Gardens, talks about the health-giving trees and plants to be found in your locality. Seán Meehan, from the Irish Wildlife Trust, discusses their latest survey of newts in Ireland. And Professor Adrian Lister, from London's Natural History Museum, tells us why extinction is just one of the many natural cycles of planet Earth.

The Health Benefits Of Trees & Other Plants

The Health Benefits Of Trees & Other Plants

Tom and Barbara Good from TV’s popular sitcom The Good Life raised chickens and goats in their back garden, they grew fruit and vegetables in their allotment and they generated their own electricity and made their own clothes. But I’m not sure if their self sufficient lifestyle stretched to eating trees?

But apparently the health benefits of trees include chewing willow bark to suppress pain, and the alder tree has been used for bruises coughs and sore throats...

Matthew Jebb is director of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in Glasnevin, and he joins Derek, Richard and Eanna to tell us about a new study from North America which provides some evidence that living on a street with trees can help you live longer!

For more information about the National Botanic Gardens, visit

The Tree Council of Ireland's National Tree Week starts this Sunday, and the theme is 'A Feast Of Trees' - for more details of events around the country to celebrate this, visit

60th Anniversary Of DNA Double Helix Discovery

60th Anniversary Of DNA Double Helix Discovery

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Matthew Jebb tells us why this was so significant, and about the Irish link to the discovery.  For more information, you can read more by clicking here:

Jim Watson, who was one of those who discovered the double helix structure, will be coming to the Botanic Gardens and Trinity College in April.

Lecture: What is DNA? by Matthew Jebb. This lecture will take place at the National Botanic Gardens on Wednesday, March 20th. It will explain, in layman's terms, what DNA is and how it was discovered. The story of the double helix is a classic breakthrough in science; a brilliant insight revealed its structure in the space of a single afternoon to 2 young scientists in Cambridge in 1953. The three Nobel prize winners - Watson, Crick and Wilkinson - had three Irish parents between them, emphasising once again the central role that Irish scientists have had in scientific discovery. It starts at 3pm in the Education and Visitor Centre.

Extinction: Not the End of the World?

Extinction: Not the End of the World?

Although over 99% of all species that roamed our planet are now extinct, a rich mix of animals and plants survive.

Last weekend Derek paid a visit to the Natural History Museum in London to see their exhibition on Extinction. There he met Alex Fairhead, exhibition developer, and Paleontologist Prof Adrian Lister (pictured), who has a particular interest in the Great Irish Elk...

Extinction: Not the End of the World? is running at the Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road in London until September 8th 2013. Tickets cost £9 for adults, £4.50 for children over 4 and concessions, a family ticket is £24, and there is free entry for Members, Patrons and children under 4. For more information about the exhibition, click here.

Invasion Of Asian Hornets

Invasion Of Asian Hornets

Swarms of the Asian Hornet have already devastated beehives in the south of France, and beekeepers in England are frantically trying to root out their nests before they wipe out their native bee population.  On the line from England is our own Philip McCabe, Public Relations Officer with The Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations.

2013 National Newt Survey Needs Your Help!

2013 National Newt Survey Needs Your Help!

They were described by Dick Warner as "little dinosaurs left over from the Jurassic". They are one of only three species of amphibian, native to Ireland. And they are also amongst the most elusive creatures we have on this island.

What are they?

Newts! Or, more specifically, the smooth Newt. They are extremely elusive, and we know very little about how they are distributed throughout the country.

A female newt

Recently, the Irish Wildlife Trust announced that they will be doing a nationwide survey of the smooth Newt. And the organisation wants your help! Sean Meehan is co-ordinator for the National Newt Survey for the Irish Wildlife Trust and is in studio to tell us more…

A smooth newt

To register as a surveyor in one of the targeted counties or for more information contact Seán Meehan at or on 087 920-7583 or visit

The training will be taking place on:

Kerry - Saturday, March 9th – Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 10am

Tipperary - Sunday, March 10th – Cabragh Wetlands, Thurles, 10am

Offaly - Sunday March 24th – Clara Bog Nature Reserve, 11am

Meath – Saturday, April 6th – Sonairte, The National Ecology Centre, Laytown, 11am.

Hedgerows: It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.

UPDATE: February 29th 2016 - Press Release From BirdWatch Ireland:

Putting the record straight: Dates for burning and hedge-cutting have NOT changed

BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest conservation charity, is very concerned about misinformation that is currently circulating regarding the dates within which the burning of vegetation and cutting of hedges is permitted.  It would like to remind landowners that all burning and cutting must cease on 29th February this year and that burning and cutting remains prohibited from 1st March to 31st August.

Despite attempts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., to change the laws regulating these dates by introducing the Heritage Bill 2016 earlier this year, it is important to note that the proposed date changes were ultimately NOT made.  This is because the bill failed to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas before the recent dissolution of the Dáil in advance of the general election.

The laws in place governing the dates for hedge-cutting and upland burning therefore remain unchanged. The period within which cutting and burning is prohibited are set down in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended in 2000), which states that:

(a) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
(b) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection (above).

The existing law provides exemptions for road safety and other circumstances and should be read carefully to ensure compliance.

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act exists to protect nesting birds. Many of our upland bird species are in decline and are in danger of extinction in Ireland; amongst them is the Curlew, which has declined by 80%. Many birds which nest in hedgerows into August are also in serious decline, including the endangered Yellowhammer. The changes to the cutting and burning dates which had been proposed in the now-defunct Heritage Bill 2016 would have caused serious impacts to these birds. A petition launched by BirdWatch Ireland in conjunction with several other national conservation organisations to stop these changes attracted more than 16,200 signatures and rising.

BirdWatch Ireland would also like to advise members of the public that if they see hedges being cut or fires in the uplands on or after 1st March, such activity could be illegal.  In such cases, we would encourage people to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service ( to report such activity.

BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the demise of the Heritage Bill 2016 and sincerely hopes that any future administration will consider the importance of Ireland’s natural heritage and will not attempt to reintroduce such a flawed and damaging piece of legislation.

To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.


Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.

If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit


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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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