A comprehensive catchment wide rapid assessment survey took place in late June 2010 by five teams including individuals from the MulkearLIFE, Shannon Regional Fisheries Board (now Inland Fisheries Ireland), National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and local volunteers. The survey day was preceded by a full day training session with Dr. Ferdia Marnell from NPWS.
Field training session at Killeengarriff Bridge
In total 85 sites were surveyed of which four sites were inaccessible and thus a final total of 81 sites were used on the following rivers, tributaries and streams: Mulkear, Bilboa, Dead, Newport, Killeengarrif, Clare, Annagh, Reask, Pope’s, Cauteen, Cahernahallia, Dooglasha, Small, Cully, Ahboy and Glaisclluainarbhaoile. Other smaller streams were also included. The vast majority of sites (82%) were at bridges or weirs. The remaining sites were located along river banks, at fords or culverts or along drainage channels.
Sites With No Evidence
Exactly one third (33.33%) of the 81 sites had neither evidence of otter or of mink activity present.
Sites With Otter Evidence
Evidence of otter activity in the form of an actual sighting, prints or spraint (dried fragments, dried intact, not fully dry) was reviewed at each site. Otter were recorded at 50 out of 81 sites (62% of all sites). Of the positive otter sites actual otter prints were recorded at 54% of sites. Only 24% of the positive otter sites had both otter prints and spraints present. Of the 50 positive otter sites 64% recorded only evidence of otter activity (the absence of mink activity).
Sites With Mink Evidence
Evidence of mink activity in the form of an actual sighting, prints or scats (dried fragments, dried intact, not fully dry) was reviewed at each site. Mink were recorded at 22 out of 81 sites (27% of all sites). Of the positive mink sites actual mink prints were recorded at 59% of sites. Only 23% of the positive mink sites had both mink prints and scats present. Evidence of mink trapping (actual traps) was recorded at 3 and possibly 4 different sites. Of the 22 positive mink sites 18% recorded only evidence of mink activity (the absence of otter activity).
The full findings of the survey work are at present being analysed and recommendations on proposed sites for artificial holt construction are being reviewed.
Survey work being conducted at Annagh Bridge