ALLIANCE Party Leader David Ford has welcomed the results of a new survey by Queen’s University, Belfast that indicates a recent significant increase in hare numbers in Northern Ireland.
Mr Ford, who is also Alliance Agriculture Spokesperson, stated: “While the actual numbers may be influenced by the change in methodology, there is no doubt that the trend in the numbers of Irish hares in NI is upwards. This increase over the last two years follows a long period of decline.
“The decision of the Environment Minister, Angela Smith, to increase protection for hares has clearly contributed to this welcome increase, as has the uptake of the Agri-Environment Scheme by farmers throughout Northern Ireland.
“As the person who forced through an Assembly amendment to increase protection for hares, against the wishes of the Unionist Minister at the time, I am delighted that this new evidence clearly shows that the DoE was wrong and MLAs were right.
“I hope that the Minister will now ensure that her officials follow through on this progress and ensure that all aspects of the species action plan for the hare are put into place.”