‘I have never seen such an influx of dead frogs’

By Maurice Garvey

IN RECENT months, a resident out walking his dog beside the build for the new Kilcarbery-Grange housing estate in Clondalkin began to notice something unusual.

His dog kept uncovering dead frogs in the thick tufts of grass on marsh lands, which are located between Corkagh Park and the massive construction site for over 1,000 new homes.

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Some of the dead frogs at the site

“I have been walking my dog here for years and never seen such an influx of dead frogs,” said the Cherrywood resident.

“At one stage there was a big tube pumping out water from the construction site to the marshlands. In the last week, there has been an even bigger increase in dead frogs.

 

I am seeing less birds nesting in the lands. The work is definitively having an effect on wildlife.”

The Echo visited the lands on Monday, and sure enough, dead amphibians are to be found scattered across the land.

According to Tallaght-based conservationist Collie Ennis, it is breeding season for frogs and they are often killed by natural predators.

However, he suspects this “mass killing of frogs” is down to a “lack of forward thinking from local authorities when it comes to biodiversity” leaving the amphibians in the area to be exposed to predators.

“It would have cost very little for them to put in shallow replacement ponds/small wetland for the frogs to use after the removal of their home,” said Ennis, who has his own frog pond at home, and is a science office for the Herpetological Society of Ireland.

Ennis said the frog in the picture, was likely killed by a crow or magpie, a small peck is visible on it’s body where the liver would have been removed.

Frog 3 compressor

“The large number of dead frogs on site would suggest that the houses have been built in or near temporary wetlands used by the frogs for spawning.

They are like homing pigeons and think they are going home. With the loss of these areas and with no mitigation or replacement ponds put in place, the animals were simply caught out in the open to be picked off by various predators.”

An Environmental Impact Assessment report was carried out by Stephen Little & Associates for South Dublin County Council as part of the master plan for Kilcarbery-Grange – a development of 1,034 new homes.

The report acknowledged there would be ecological impacts in relation to “habitat loss, disturbance and displacement associated with construction works, accidental mortality” and “accidental pollution during construction affecting surface water quality.”

In the bio-diversity report, it states no amphibians were observed during surveys in November 2018, which is “not surprising given it is outside the active season” and noted the understorey of hedgerows provides “suitable hibernation habitat for the common frog and smooth newt.”

Ennis said looking for frogs in November “is like trying to buy Easter eggs at Halloween.”

“While environmental impact surveys are incredibly important, they are not always completely accurate and should be assessed by a number of experts on different species of fauna or have a standard structured guide with methodology clearly described,” said Ennis.

“I know it’s a pain in the ass for construction companies but frogs are a protected species under the wildlife act and this is just not good enough.

The biodiversity impact survey done for this area in regards to amphibians was completely inadequate as it did not check for breeding sites during their active months, typically January to March.

“It would have cost very little to put in shallow replacement ponds/small wetland for the frogs to use after the removal of their home. Fair play to that resident. You need people to notice these things, stand up and do something.”

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