Northern Ireland

Picking protected flowers 'a crime' in Northern Ireland

Glenariff Image copyright © Bernie Brown Photography
Image caption Bluebells, such as these at Glenariff in County Antrim, are among the wildflowers it is a crime to uproot

Uprooting wildflowers, such as bluebells and primroses, without permission in Northern Ireland is a crime - and you could be prosecuted.

The warning comes as organisations set up to prevent wildlife crime begin a new awareness campaign.

Organisers say many native NI species such as deer, salmon and birds of prey are subject to poaching and cruelty.

But uprooting even common wildflowers without the landowner's permission is an offence.

There is a list of 70 protected wildflowers which it is an offence to interfere with in any way, including picking or taking their seeds.

Environment minister Mark H Durkan told the launch of the initiative: "We aim to educate people that sometimes their actions inadvertently cause significant harm to wildlife.

"Of course, there are also other elements which involve much more extreme forms of criminality - those who target wildlife inflicting great cruelty for their personal pleasure or those who illegally exploit or target our wildlife for financial gain.

"Our starting point is to drive increased awareness of what wildlife crime is and why and encouraging them to report it or seek advice, so that we keep this as a priority and work towards dramatically reducing all forms of wildlife crime."

Supt Brian Kee of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: "Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour, or suspects a wildlife crime is taking place or has occurred, contact the police service on 101, or in an emergency ring 999.

"The report will be fully investigated and where evidence of a criminal offence is found the offender will be reported to the Public Prosecution Service with a view to a prosecution."

People can also report wildlife crime using the Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111.

The campaign has been organised by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Northern Ireland (PAW NI), which is comprised of statutory and non-government organisations involved in preventing wildlife crime.

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