Bird hide destroyed at local wildlife oasis
Friday 22nd June 2012
Balloo Wetland Nature Reserve
A popular bird watching hide at a local wildlife oasis in Bangor has been destroyed by arsonists, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
It is believed a fire was started on Tuesday night (19 June 2012) at Balloo Wetland Nature Reserve, which completely devastated the bird hide. This is the second time arsonists have attacked the bird hide, which was replaced following a similar incident in October 2009.
The bird hide is one of the main attractions of this local nature reserve, which has been transformed from a derelict site by the Ulster Wildlife Trust in partnership with North Down Borough Council and local residents, into a popular local amenity and sanctuary for wetland-loving animals.
“We are extremely disheartened to see one of our nature reserves - a much-loved local amenity and wildlife haven - vandalised in this way,” said Deborah McLaughlin, Nature Reserves Officer with the Ulster Wildlife Trust.
“The bird hide is well used by local birdwatchers and was completely replaced after vandals burnt it down in 2009. All of this work has now been destroyed, and as charity, this incident has put considerable pressure on our limited staff and resources. We are just thankful the fire didn’t cause any further damage to the nature reserve.”
Mayor of North Down, Councillor Wesley Irvine, commented: “We are obviously extremely disappointed that someone would deliberately seek to damage a wildlife facility that brings so much pleasure to so many people.”
He continued: “The PSNI are aware of the incident and, as well as investigating the arson, will be meeting with the Council and the Ulster Wildlife Trust to discuss undertaking regular patrols of the site. The debris from the fire will be cleared away as soon as possible.”
The Ulster Wildlife Trust and North Down Borough Council are working together to make the nature reserve safe for the public, and the site will remain open as usual.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact the PSNI.