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Radio Ulster ruffles a few feathers after slip-ups over wildlife

By Linda Stewart

Published 30/05/2016

Experts have warned people to be aware of wildlife laws after comments aired on BBC Radio Ulster sparked consternation
Experts have warned people to be aware of wildlife laws after comments aired on BBC Radio Ulster sparked consternation

Experts have warned people to be aware of wildlife laws after comments aired on BBC Radio Ulster sparked consternation.

Ulster Wildlife's living landscapes manager Conor McKinney offered training in the law to BBC broadcasters after two incidents caused a stir on Twitter.

"Twice this week your advice has been in contravention of wildlife legislation @bbcradioulster. I run courses if needed," he tweeted.

Afterwards he said the first incident took place as broadcaster Sean Coyle talked about birds nesting at his house and a caller asked how to stop a bird when it had started building a nest.

"It's illegal. If a bird is in the process of building a nest, regardless of whether or not a bird is in it, it's illegal to disturb it," Mr McKinney warned.

"Even if it's being built, it's still protected by law."

Mr McKinney said he had contacted the programme to let them know that disturbing nesting birds was illegal and that message was read out. "They were quite good in trying to make amends," he conceded.

Another listener raised concerns after a discussion on Gardeners Corner about planting three-cornered leek, a non-native and invasive species.

He said it made him groan when the broadcasters said the leek seems to be doing really well in Northern Ireland and could be seen growing among bluebells.

The listener asked if a correction could be issued as native plants had it hard enough without more invasive species being spread. "It's quite a mire. There are certain things you need to be aware of," Mr McKinney said.

A BBC spokeswoman said Maurice Parkinson and Cherrie McIlwaine had been discussing the three-cornered leek.

"It was a discussion around how attractive the plant is, but there was no recommendation to grow it," she said.

She said that comments on Sean Coyle's show came from listeners talking about nest building.

"Some of them asked how they could stop it. Very quickly someone texted to say it was illegal and Sean read that out. It was made clear on air," she said.

Mr McKinney said all birds were protected under Northern Ireland's legislation, including the chick, adult bird and even the nest.

Belfast Telegraph

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