Endangered critters face brunt of tourists
KILLARNEY'S population of fireflies is staring down the face of extinction as tourism operators witness shocking displays of visitor vandalism.
For four weeks every year, the rare critters come out of hiding, lighting up the skies of Queen Mary Falls, but human intervention, coupled with drought, has reduced numbers to a never-before-seen low, according to Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park owner Louise Reed.
"At the moment, they're right down, they're not as good as they usually are," Mrs Reed said.
The fireflies, which depend on a very delicate and moist ecosystem to survive, could die from too much noise or white light.
But Mrs Reed said she had also seen visitors' disrespect for the fireflies' habitat go beyond that.
"Some of the behaviour I've witnessed is just atrocious, I've seen kids running around and swatting them to the ground, essentially killing them," she said.
"It makes me feel very disappointed, mainly because the numbers are so low and we should be protecting them as much as we can."
It has even gotten to the point where the park owner was considering closing down indefinitely.
"We're thinking about not letting people know next year," she said.
"You combine low numbers with mistreatment and it's not too long before you wipe them out."
Mrs Reed said Killarney's nearby glow-worm population had faced a similar fate, and she would hate to see that happen to the fireflies.
"It is such a special thing because it's right on our doorstep but it's the same as anything else, if we don't care for it, it's gone."