12/12/2014 : Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht gifts 29 Partridges* to Northern Ireland
*Pear trees not included
Friday, 12th December—The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has confirmed that 29 wild grey partridges from the Republic of Ireland have been handed over to Northern Ireland as part of a project to re-establish a wild population of the birds in the six-counties.
The project is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). Wild grey partridges were declared extinct in Northern Ireland in 1992.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“This is a wonderful cross-border initiative for the conservation of Ireland’s natural heritage. I am delighted to see my Department and the NIEA working together in a bid to reintroduce wild grey partridges to Northern Ireland. This conservation project is good for our natural heritage and wildlife, while bringing the communities together to work towards a shared goal.”
“This is the second translocation of birds from the Grey Partridge Conservation Project, which is based in Boora Bog, County Offaly. A translocation to North Dublin in 2011 has seen the grey partridge breeding successfully on farmland after an absence of nearly fifty years. We hope that our colleagues in Northern Ireland achieve their conservation objectives for this iconic farmland bird.”
The translocation of wild grey partridge was only possible because the grey partridge conservation project in Boora has turned the fortunes of the species around from its lowest ebb of 22 birds in 2002 to just over 1,000 birds in 2014.
Mr David Sandford, a grey partridge enthusiast from Lecale, Co. Down will spear head the operation in Northern Ireland. Wild grey partridges were common on his fathers’ farm thirty-five years ago.
Mr Sandford has secured the support of neighbouring farms, where changes to farming practices will be made possible under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. These changes will involve an integration of food production while facilitating measures to enhance the conservation status of farmland birds like the grey partridge.