‘Joe Magee’ cot is launched to save endangered curlew

A NEW boat has been launched to help save the some of Fermanagh’s most endangered birds. 
A  new traditional cot, which will be used to transport livestock and machinery from the islands of Lower Lough Erne, has been launched by the RSPB. The boat will be named after the Joe Magee, a pioneering Fermanagh bird conservationist, and will be used to manage the habitats of endangered local wildlife including curlews and other breeding wading birds such as snipe, redshanks and lapwings.
Joe was RSPB warden between 1971 and 1998 and was one of the first people to notice the alarming decline of breeding wading birds in the county. He originally designed a cot for transporting grazing livestock that help the RSPB maintain their islands on the lough, but it now needs replaced. 
“We originally used a wooden cot, which a farmer let us use. Then we built our own, although at first it had no engine on it and we had to tow it using another boat. So eventually we got an engine and that made life easier,” said Joe. 
“I knew that across the island of Ireland curlew numbers were dropping, so it’s important that work is still being done to look after them.”
Current RSPB NI area manager Brad Robson, who succeeded Joe in Fermanagh in 1998, said: “The cot is used throughout the year. We move about 150 cattle and 60 sheep back and forth to our managed islands, as well as livestock to other privately-owned islands. In its first voyages, the new vessel will be used to bring livestock off for the winter.”
Mr Robson thanked the Co-operation Across Borders Bioderversity project, which provided the cot and is funded by the EU’s Interreg Programme. 
Fermanagh is home to 10 percent of the curlew population on the island of Ireland, with 39 pairs on the RSPB NI Fermanagh reserve in 2019. But curlews are in a perilous state, as numbers in Northern Ireland have declined by 89 percent since 1987. 

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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