Monday, 8 April 2013

Fire destroys wildlife habitat

Staff and volunteers from RSPB Dee Estuary joined fire fighters in a bid to tackle a blaze at the weekend, which destroyed the habitat of nesting birds and wildlife.

The fire, which police believe was started deliberately, spread across Neston Reedbed and Parkgate Marsh on Sunday afternoon, causing damage to the reserve and a number of residents’ garden fences. No-one was injured in the blaze.

The incident has raised repeated safety concerns from RSPB staff as arson attacks on the site have been an ongoing problem for a number of years.

Colin Wells, site manager at RSPB Dee Estuary Reserve, said: “There is a team of volunteers who warden the area in the evenings to try and discourage people from starting fires, which has successfully prevented any for a few years, but sadly not this year. We are concerned this could lead to a more serious accident.”

The fire has had a damaging impact on local wildlife, particularly harvest mice, as many may have been killed in the blaze.

Colin said: “The last few weeks have been fine and combined with a cold easterly wind, the conditions on the marsh have been brittle and dry, which meant the fire spread quickly.

“The harvest mice will have lost their habitat and many of them may have been injured or killed. The area is an important breeding ground for birds such as reed warblers, reed buntings and water rail. They will have lost their nesting areas. This loss of habitat is devastating.”
Police are treating the fire as a potential arson case. Anyone with any information is asked to call Ellesmere Port and Neston Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0845 458 6373.

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