TREVOR WEEKS: Fox cub rescues required plenty of problem solving

Bexhill fox cub trapped between two walls May 10, 2016 SUS-160516-091422001
Bexhill fox cub trapped between two walls May 10, 2016 SUS-160516-091422001

Even after 31 years of helping wildlife, we still get rescues which are out of the norm, problematic and involve a lot of problem solving.

Last week was no exception. We had three fox cub rescues in three days, the latter two which were far from simple.

The first cub was undertaken by rescuers Andrew and Charlotte, who were called to a cub trapped in a trench in Lewes.

They were able to release the cub after it was checked over for it to run off back home.

Cubs at the moment are starting to wander as they start following mum and as a result get into trouble.

The second cub we were called to by Bexhill Wildlife Rescue after it was found trapped between two walls behind a property in Albert Road, Bexhill.

Rescue manager Chris and I attended on site, and were amazed at how tight the gap was.

We could see the cub’s head almost at the end of the wall where the gap was the narrowest, but too thin to pass through.

We couldn’t get our arms far enough down the gap as it was too far and tight.

We tried getting a dog grasper down the gap but again the gap was too narrow to get the loop round the cub’s body.

We were seriously thinking we would have to demolish the wall, but the ground level on one side was higher than the drop to the cub which would have made doing so very difficult.

We decided to try and lift the cub trying from underneath.

We slid a thinker pole of a dog grasper underneath the cub.

Slowly and gently we tried to raise the pole up ensuring we didn’t trap the cub’s leg or tail down the side of the pole.

It was not easy and as the cub was not sitting still it was a long winded job.

Eventually after about an hour of trying the cub was far enough up that Chris was able to get his arm down to the cub and help lift him up gently.

Once near the top the cub had a bit more room and helped scramble out of the gap to safety. We took the cub out to WRAS’s ambulance for a check over, to treat a graze on its paw and to clean up Chris’s hand after he was bitten a few times by the cub’s sharp little teeth.

In these situations gloves are pointless as you can’t feel what you are doing well enough and their bite isn’t very painful.

The fit and healthy cub was returned to the garden and released where it ran off back under the shed to be with his family.

The gap between the two walls was blocked up using an old wooden door. A good bit of team work between WRAS and Bexhill Wildlife Rescue.

The following day we had a call about a trapped fox cub down a drain in Cooden Beach. WRAS rescuer Tony attended on site first but couldn’t see the cub and was unsure how to get the cub out.

Rescue manager Chris and I attended again on site to help.

It appears that one of the drain covers had been left open and leading to the cub falling in.

The cub was then able to wander along the pipes about two to three feet underground.

It wasn’t long before we could hear the cub, but there were several pipes the cub could be in, so systematically we had to check them.

Putting my arm down the drain I used my mobile phone to video the view along the pipes.

Using drainage rods we were able to rule out the cub being in the main pipe back to the large man-hole cover.

So we now had four sections of pipe going to surface water drains and guttering.

Three of the four pipes we were able to gain access to check, but the last one we couldn’t.

After about two hours of checking, we had managed to rule out the cub being in any other pipe other than the one we couldn’t check.

We decided to give the cub a break, head off to cover a couple of other rescues and jobs back at our Casualty Centre before returning a couple of hours later to sit a wait for the cub to come to us.

Chris and I decided to play the waiting game, laying on the floor with an arm down the drain waiting for the cub to back up to our hand where we could then grab the cub.

We were expecting to be there for hours, but to our amazement the cub touched my hand within half an hour of starting.

It took me three attempts as I couldn’t see anything and had to rely purely on my sense of touch.

I managed to grab the cub’s tail and gently pull him up the drain and out to day light.

The poor cub was soaking wet, dirty and cold. We jumped in the ambulance and returned to WRAS’s Casualty Centre where the cub was washed and warmed up and within 90 minutes returned back to the cul-de-sac.

On our arrival the vixen – who had been visiting us all day – appeared at the far end of the close.

We put the cub in a carrier and waited for mum to come over to retrieve her son.

Within minutes she was there and the reaction from the cub when he saw mum was amazing, wagging his tail and so excited.

He climbed up out of the cage helped by mum and they then trotted off back home again.

An amazingly frustrating, rewarding, and emotional few rescues.