East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service volunteers were called to a fox caught in a football net on a school playing field in Eastbourne yesterday morning (Tuesday).
Concerned staff at Willingdon Primary School spotted the distressed fox entangled in the net.
A WRAS spokesperson said staff moved children away and waited for rescuers to arrive.
WRAS rescuer Iain Turner and casualty manager Chris Riddington went to the scene.
“The fox had managed to get the netting wrapped around a front leg and around the tail,” said Chris.
“Firstly we had to secure the fox with a towel before we could remove any of the netting. We then lifted the poor fox into a fox cage and once it was closed we cut the netting.
“It was quite a tense situation as the fox was darting left and right,” said Iain.
“We managed to catch the fox and get him secured, he seems to have got off lightly from his ordeal.”
The rescuers took the fox back to the WRAS casualty centre in Whitesmith.
“Once we got him back to the hospital we placed a muzzle on him but it was quite difficult as the fox was a lot larger than I’m used to weighing around nine kilogrammes,” said Chris.
“We removed the netting at the hospital instead of at the scene for the fox’s safety. If we had cut it free during the rescue we risked it escaping. When an animal has line or netting wrapped tightly around its body it can cause ligature wounds or pressure necrosis, so we always monitor for a least seven days before releasing back to the wild.”
The incident has prompted the charity to remove netting when it isn’t being used.
Chris said, “This is an ongoing problem with wild animals caught in different types of netting such as tennis courts, cricket tunnels, goal netting and garden netting.
“We urge those who use such nettings to lift them off the ground when not in use or put them away to avoid this happening. If these animals are not spotted they face a long painful death or can easily strangle themselves trying to break free.”