Mooney, Friday September 20th 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!



Derek Mooney with his unique mix of conversation, information, advice and entertainment

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

Why is it so difficult to swat a fly? Because to the fly, you are operating in slow motion! Amazing new research from Trinity College in Dublin explores time perception in animals, and its lead author, Kevin Healy, joins the Mooney Goes Wild team to tell all!

Eanna ni Lamhna teams up with David Millard, from Bord Iascaigh Mhara, to go seaweed hunting in Dublin.

And Davide Bomben, Rhino Ranger and World Leader in Rhino Protection, joins Derek to talk about his work, and World Rhino Day on this Sunday, September 22nd.

Plight Of White Rhinos

Plight Of White Rhinos

Last week, we were talking about crime against wildlife and how too often such crimes are brought to our attention on this programme. Today, we saw a terrible picture of a white rhino, bloodied and amputated of its horns.

The rhino is known as Thandi, and she had her horns hacked off by pangas, which are not unlike machetes. It is one of too many stories of rhinos butchered for a thriving illegal trade in rhino horns.

You might not think that this crime has any connection with us here in Ireland, but you would be wrong. This Sunday happens to be World Rhino Day and today are joined in studio by Rhino Ranger Davide Bomben, who is a a world leader in rhino protection.

Stephen Hawking Documentary

Stephen Hawking Documentary

Mooney Goes Wild reporter Terry Flanagan is in studio today, and he was at the movies last night - NOT to see Monsters University, or The Smurfs, in 3-D or otherwise! And NOT to see Diana, the recently released movie about Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Terry went to a biographical picture of an entirely different kind - exploring the life of the world-famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, no less, and he Terry joins Derek in studio today to tell us what he made of it all!

For more information about the documentary Hawking, visit

There are no plans to screen Hawking in the Republic of Ireland, but it will be available as a download on iTunes from later today.

Searching For Seaweed

Searching For Seaweed

As an island nation we are surrounded by sea - but we are also surrounded by something else: seaweed! About 500 different species, in fact. Most of us have heard of Dulse or Carrigeen - edible seaweeds – but most of us just ignore seaweed as 'stuff on the beach'. However seaweed is pretty fascinating... AND lucrative!

Eanna ni Lamhna isn’t with us today, but earlier this week she met up with David Millard, Regional Development Officer with Bord Iascaigh Mhara in Castletownbere and they went seaweed-hunting in Dublin…

Extreme Greens: Understanding Seaweed, by Sally McKenna, is published by Estragon Press, and the ISBN is 978-1906927-196. The RRP is £18.

Animals' Perception Of Time

Animals' Perception Of Time

Last year, you might remember the pictures that went around the world of a murmuration of starlings around Mullingar, Co Westmeath. It was absolutely astonishing. Thousands upon thousands of starlings, dashing and swooshing through the air, at breakneck speed, and in the most intricate formations you can imagine! And what's astonishing to the human eye is the fact that they can achieve such incredible speeds, in such vast numbers, and never crash into each other! How do they manage it?

And what about flies? How do they manage to buzz around your kitchen, with all those obstacles, and never crash into anything? And obstacles include the rolled up newspaper you use to try to swat the little critters!

The reason is that animals like flies and starlings, and in truth animals of all kinds, perceive time and motion in a completely different way to human beings. We might wonder how the fly avoids a rolled up newspaper. But the fly can probably see it coming a mile away! And at a much slower speed than we can perceive.

It's an amazing phenomenon, and it's been explored in depth by Kevin Healy. Kevin is a PhD student at the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, and he is the lead author of a study exploring time perception in animals.

To read the full paper, visit

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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