Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan has supported a full investigation by An Garda Siochana into the causes of a major fire at Curraghline Bog in County Galway.
The site is an important habitat for breeding waders including the critically endangered Curlew.
Responding to calls by Birdwatch Ireland to investigate the cause of the fire as a possible wildlife crime, the Minister said that he had immediately tasked National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to work with An Garda Siochana in its investigation of the cause of the fire.
He added that these fires don’t start by themselves and are often more man-made fires than "wildfires".
Minister Noonan said NPWS takes these matters very seriously and in recent weeks announced increased surveillance using drones and helicopters on key natural heritage sites and Ireland's National Parks.
He said that a thorough investigation would need to be carried out and he thanked fire and emergency services of Galway County Council and NPWS staff who attended the scene to bring the fire under control.
Minister Noonan added that there will be increased aerial and ground surveillance in the coming days as a preventative measure.