Belfast Telegraph

Heat is killing salmon in poachers' nets

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Hundreds of salmon caught by illegal poachers are believed to have died because of the blistering heat across Northern Ireland.

The Loughs Agency in Londonderry, which tries to conserve fisheries in the Foyle area, usually frees fish if it finds them caught in a net, but it said the fish are dying before officials can get to them.

It is understood that this is resulting in hundreds more fish dying than usual.

John McCartney, director of the Loughs Agency, said: "Unfortunately with the high temperatures the fish are so stressed that when they get caught in these poaching nets they are dying within minutes."

This is unwelcome news for the fishing industry as reports indicate that overall fish stocks in Northern Ireland rivers have been steadily declining over the years.

Wildlife on land has also been affected by the soaring temperature and protection groups are calling for help from the public.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has issued a warning to encourage people to play their part in helping their garden wildlife survive these sweltering temperatures.

Judith Carville from the RSPB said that the dehydration of garden favourites is the biggest worry, and added: "It's only detrimental if people don't look after the wildlife.

"In hot weather the water dries up, there is not enough rain water and there are no puddles for the birds, animals or insects to drink out of."

The sudden soar in temperature which Northern Ireland has experienced over the last few weeks has led to a significant lack of moisture in the ground and this has meant that insects go further into the ground which makes it difficult for the birds to feed on them.

Judith said: "A lot of birds get most of their liquid from food and when things like that are happening you need supplementary water, so it is important that people put a bowl of water out.

"Or if you know you have hedgehogs around leave out some cat food for them."

It is not just the vulnerable wildlife who are feeling the heat. There is also a rising concern over plants which are relying heavily on the public watering them as we reach a consecutive 15 days without rainfall.

Ms Carville said: "Bees and butterflies rely a lot on flowering plants but with no water around a lot of them are in danger of dying which takes away a food source for them."

The RSPB launched a campaign earlier in the year to ask people to give nature a home in their own gardens.

This followed the release of the groundbreaking State of Nature report, which involved 25 wildlife organisations and revealed 60% of the wildlife species studied have declined over recent decades.

Ms Carville added: "It's very simple to put a bowl of water out."

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