Mooney, Friday October 11th 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, with Marty Morrissey

Eel populations across Europe have plummeted, and there is great concern for the survival of this iconic species. On Mooney Goes Wild, we hear how the ESB is helping on the Shannon, as part of its environmental sustainability drive.

The venomous "false widow spider" is cropping up around the UK. We ask, "what are the chances this spider could come to Ireland?"

And, the story of King Bruno, a remarkable chimpanzee from Sierra Leone, as documented by Irish BAFTA -winning filmmaker, Paul Glynn.

False Widow Spiders

If you've seen the movie Arachnophobia, you'll know that there’s never any lack of people ready to queue up to give the poor old spider a bad press. But earlier this week the BBC reported that an amateur soccer player named Steve Harris has been sidelined indefinitely due to a bite from a false widow spider.

The Daily Mail added more grist to the mill describing how a healthy 31-year-old man collapsed after being bitten several times by this venomous arachnid – and if media reports in the UK are to be believed, the False Widow is on the march with an increase in the number of sightings - and more reports of people being bitten.

Not to be confused with the Black Widow Spider – its even more dangerous cousin – the False Widow has been resident in Ireland since 1997.

Arachnologist Myles Nolan is one of Ireland's leading spider experts - and he’s with Marty, Richard and Eanna in the studio today...

Eels & ESB Sustainability Report

The ESB, or Electricity Supply Board, is Ireland's largest energy provider, generating energy from a variety of sources, and distributing it through ESB networks. But if we told you that the ESB had a division called "ESB Fisheries Conservation", would you be surprised?

We certainly were! ESB Fisheries Conservation actually employs several full-time staff around the country. And amongst their projects is something called the "Shannon Eel Management Programme". The aim of the programme is to help with the recovery of EU eel stocks, in line with a 2007 EU regulation.

And yesterday, our reporter, Katriona McFadden, drove down to Birdhill, County Tipperary, to meet Tom O’Brien , the ESB's fisheries supervisor.

The eel management programme is one of a number of projects the ESB is undertaking in the whole area of conservation. And recently, the ESB released the results of its 2012 Sustainability Report.

Sitting in studio with Marty, Richard and Eanna today to take us through the findings of the is Colm de Burca, ESB Safety and Sustainability Manager...

Kildanogue Wildlife Sanctuary

Lots of people in organisations throughout the country work to improve conditions for our flora and fauna.

One such group are based deep in County Tipperary and for the last number of years they have struggled to collect funding to create a wildlife sanctuary.

Well, their efforts have paid off!

The Kildanogue Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Reserve is now open and recently our reporter Terry Flanagan headed down to the Premier County where he met up with Dr Douglas Butler...

King Bruno, Chimpanzee

Since 2006 there has been a lot of debate among the citizens of Freetown in Sierra Leone as to whether a large and intelligent chimpanzee called Bruno has been spotted in the nearby hills.

Opinion varies wildly amongst locals as to what exactly became of the well known chimp. Some say he has been killed by the CIA. Others, that he was abducted for his sperm. There are many theories, but nothing concrete.

As a baby chimp, Bruno was orphaned by hunters. This is not an unusual story for the dwindling population of chimpanzees in Sierra Leone, where chimps have been sold for bush meat and their orphaned children sold as pets.

Bruno was lucky. In 1989 he was bought for 30 dollars, raised by humans and very much cherished – so much so that his owner built a chimpanzee sanctuary. But then, one day, tragedy struck. A large group of chimpanzees – led by Bruno - escaped from a sanctuary. In the process, a man was maimed and another man was killed.

Bruno he has never been found since.

Now when an Irish filmmaker from Dublin was visiting Freetown in 2006 he became fascinated with the story of Bruno. He returned to Sierra Leone several times to seek out those who think they spotted the chimpanzee, and he has even published a children’s book telling his story.

The filmmaker in question, Paul Glynn, joins us from the BBC Studios in London to tell us more about the legendary chimp...

For more information, 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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