A Colony of Ground Squirrels Will be Moved From the Luda Yana Bottom, New 60 Holes Will Be Excavated For the Animals in Natura 2000 Zone

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By the end of July, scientists from the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences will move a colony of ground squirrels in order not to be affected by the construction of the Luda Yana Dam near Panagyurishte.

The animals categorized as "vulnerable" in the Biodiversity Conservation Act will be moved from their current habitat that falls within the construction site of the new drinking water body to another suitable location to ensure their survival in the future. Currently, the colony is located in a place that will be under water after the completion of the dam in 2019. In order not to affect the animals, at the time of preparation of the bottom of the facility and removal of the top soil layer the Contractor was instructed not to carry out construction works.

Moving from one location to another is one of the most commonly used conservation activities carried out to protect the European ground squirrel in the last 25 years. A number of these have been done specifically to conserve local populations in places where construction works are planned. There are already practices with similar translocations of ground squirrels colonies in several European countries, including in relation to investment intentions related to different constructions. Moving the colony to a suitable habitat within a Natura 2000 European Conservation Area will ensure the survival of endangered individuals in the long run.

This will be done in a few steps. The first one is a logistic preparation, which includes preparation of the place for the release of the ground squirrels. About 60 holes with a depth of 80 cm and a gradient of approximately 45° to serve as temporary shelters of the moved animals will be excavated on the site during the initial adaptation period to the new habitat. The translocation of the ground squirrels involves capturing the maximum number of ground squirrels from the endangered colony and moving them to the release site. Additional feeding of the animals with seeds, carrots and fruits will increase the chances of their successful adaptation and survival in the new place. This will help individuals in this period of increased stress and will keep them in the area of release, as the unfamiliar situation can initially provoke an escape away from their shelters. It is envisaged that temporary hindrances will be placed in the new habitats so that the haloes can be protected. This will prevent their panic scattering at first and will provide protection from attacks by predators such as birds of prey, wandering dogs and cats, martens, ferrets and others. When the animals dig their own tunnel, they will come out of the enclosure themselves, but they will already have enough network of tunnels and holes to survive.

The construction of Luda Yana Dam is being carried out under the framework of a Municipal Infrastructure Development Project financed by the World Bank. The total volume of the dam will be 20 million cubic meters and the wall will be 50 meters high. A modern water treatment plant together with supply water mains and other facilities will be built. The construction of the dam will ensure the continuity of the water supply and 45,000 people from Panagyurishte, the villages of Oborishte, Poibrene, Popintsi, Banya, Bata, Levski, Elshitsa, as well as the Radka Mine and the sites of Opticoelectron and Assarel will be supplied with clean drinking water.

Source: MRDPW Website

Read 1484 times Last modified on Monday, 04 June 2018 09:20

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