Sadness and stress are part of the job for wildlife rescuers

MANY people that wildlife rescue is all fluffy buny-stroking and petting wild animals or birds, when the reality is much different.

This week has not exactly been pleasant with numerous horrendously sick and injured casualties to deal with.

We were devastated this week after having to have Ebony put to sleep, the baby fallow deer which Kathy and I rescued at Maresfield.

When we rescued her the previous week, her ligature wounds looked very minor and we were all fairly positive about her condition.

However, in the space of 48 hours her fur started falling out, and massive ligature wounds appeared across both rear legs, her stomach and wounds started appearing on a front leg too. Kathy and I rushed up to see carers Chris and Sylvia after she started to go downhill, and with tears in everyone’s eyes we all jointly decided she had had enough and no option to head into the vets for their confirmation of her condition.

We have worked so hard this summer dealing with some massive trauma cases, way more and much worse than any previous year, and to be honest we are all starting to struggle with it.

It doesn’t matter how many time our vets and colleagues from other rescue organisations tell you there is nothing you could have done different, it is still not easy to accept.

We were called to a fox in a garden in Western Road, Hailsham last week too. New rescuers Stuart and Dave attended on-site with me, to help.

The fox had some spirit and didn’t look too bad at first sight but worryingly there were flies buzzing round him.

As we approached he crawled into some bushes, before slipping past Stuart and going under a fence.

We were able to corner him in an alley at the side of the callers house. I was able to get the dog grasper on the fox, but as I got closer it was clear the fox was in much worse a condition than we expected.

Once secured, I was able to take a closer look, and discovered a very deep, infected old wound to one of the front legs, a disgustingly smelly and badly infected open wound on the chest, and an massive necrotic infected wounds across the back. Very kindly Highcroft Vets in London Road, Hailsham, agreed to assess his condition for us, so we headed in that direction.

Seeing a casualty which initially looked fairly healthy and showing some spirit, to then see that animal having to be put sleep, is not easy.

We have had numerous hedgehogs in over the past couple of weeks, with nasty injuries, badly infected injuries and swollen legs, with bone infection, and many sadly beyond repair. Our vet Simon performed minor operations on three hedgehogs over the weekend - on two hedgehogs which badly infected eyes and one with an abscess. We have had a few youngsters in which now being cared for by WRAS carers Monica and Nikki. One was a very poorly little hog found in Lewes next to his dead mum who had been run over. There has been a problem nationwide with a parasite called the thorny headed worm. As a result of having several hedgehogs dying within 24-hours of being admitted without obvious reason we have had to undertake basic post-mortem examinations and three of them have been found to have this thorny headed worm. Sadly one road casualty which died was also found to have been pregnant too.

WRAS rescuers Chris and Sylvia have also picked up a rather poorly and dazed road casualty young roe deer. She has some head trauma, and we are not sure if she will recover from this. The trauma has caused her to lose her eye sight but this may be temporary, and only time will tell. It is too early to tell if she will be releasable or not.

We were called to a house in East Hoathly after a lady found a young wood pigeon in her house. It had walked in through the open back door and into the living room.

He was easily caught and we quickly took him outside due to the number of flat flies which we noticed on him. Flat flies are found on most birds, and have suckers on their feet to keep attacked whilst the bird is in flight. They are really creepy creatures! After hardened rescuers were reduced to school yard girlies panicking about flies, the bird was bedded down and kept for just a couple of days before testing his ability to fly and then taking him back to the garden for release.

This week has not been an easy week, and although we try our best to be professional, and remove the emotion from our rescues and care work to ensure that we provide a level headed and professional care of the casualties. This time of year we see some of our rescuers and carers getting stressed,

Over the years I have seen so many people set up and close due to the stress and demand of this type of work. We remind each other that we cannot save everything and we cannot be everywhere and that putting a casualty to sleep to end its suffering due to the severity of its injuries is still a successful rescue, but it is not always easy to accept. At the end of the day when you finally finish, you always look back and wonder could I have done anything differently or better.