BY SEAN HILLEN
FOLLOWING national publicity surrounding the alleged mistreatment of a family of 12 pilot whales stranded near Falcarragh by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), key meetings took place at the weekend to lobby for changes to government policy and funding for specialised training.
Simon Berrow, founder of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who travelled to west Donegal from Clare, is to host a special one-day training course in Falcarragh over the coming weeks on effective ways of dealing with stranded whales and other marine wildlife.
“It is important to have a cadre of well-trained volunteers on the ground locally, strong organisation and a formal protocol if injured marine wildlife are to be saved,” he said. “The lack of such an approach at Ballyness beach in west Donegal recently may have led to unnecessary deaths of some pilot whales.”
In addition, a public meeting is to be held at Teac Jack today, Tuesday (July 22), at 8pm to discuss how best to lobby the national government to implement changes in policy towards stranded cetaceans (which includes dolphins and porpoises).
“Unlike many other countries, the Irish government has not implemented a clear, formal protocol to help save stranded whales nor given enough funding for training programmes,” said Amanda Doherty, an environmentalist and wildlife enthusiast with Selkie Sailing, who is involved in organising today’s meeting.
“This meeting will be a springboard to encourage a collective of people living in/from Donegal with similar views regarding the welfare of our wildlife and environment.”
To avail of IWDG’s complimentary training, people are asked to contact the organisation directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at seanhillenblog.com
A petition launched on Avaaz.org (http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/National_Parks_and_Wildlife_Service_Minister_for_Arts_and_Heritage_Revise_the_Policy_in_place_for_live_strandings_of_WHA/?copy) has already attracted more than 200 signatures.
The IWDG training comes as Berrow said no call was received from Dave Duggan or Pat Vaughan of the NPWS in Donegal for help with the 12 stranded pilot whales. Voicing his disappointment, he said, “We would have travelled up to Donegal – or at the very least have given advice on the phone. We also have detailed guidance on our website about how to handle a stranded whale situation which could have been followed. Perhaps we could have saved some of these whales.”
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