An ambulance service has been inundated with calls to road casualties across East Sussex in the past month and very few of the patients have survived the horrendous injuries and wounds they have suffered. These are not human casualties however, but wildlife casualties.
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) has been called out to 38 wildlife road casualties in the last 27 days and 10 in the past 24 hours! This is on top of all the other types of incidents WRAS is being asked to attend, like wildlife injured by cats and dog or birds flown into windows.
WRAS founder Trevor Weeks MBE has been working long hours along with fellow WRAS volunteers to try to deal with the workload but says "I am really worried about our team, as the volume of casualties which are in need of being put to sleep by vets or that have died on the road side is getting very depressing."
In the last 24 hours (Between 10 am Thursday 3rd April and 10 am Friday 4th April) WRAS has dealt with 10 road casualties.
After 10 am on 3rd April:
Hedgehog - Berwick - Put to sleep at vets
Hedgehog - Newhaven - Currently in care
Fox - Seaford - Put to sleep at vets
Rabbit - Eastbourne - Currently in care
Before 10am on 4th April:
Badger - Uckfield - Died at the road side
Badger - Ringmer - Died at the road side
Rabbit - Laughton - Escaped injured
Pheasant - Lewes - Died at road side
Gull - Seaford - Died at road side
Fox - Polegate - Put to sleep at vets
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service operates a 24 hours rescue service which relies on volunteers drivers which have been working round the clock recently with some volunteers and Trevor Weeks working as many 15 hours a day dealing with rescues on site and care work within the Casualty Centre at Whitesmith. "People think we are a large charity like the RSPCA but we are very small in comparison but we try to work as hard as we can and deal with as much as we can" said Trevor.
"A lot of wildlife is moving around more as we move into the breeding season, wildlife also becomes more territorial and defensive over food sources and as a result birds are chasing each other more, young mammals start exploring further afield as they are being pushed away from their mums now that they are a year old, and more territorial fights occurs, we also find that the number of casualties also increases as the clocks change due to a change in human behaviour which the wildlife doesn't expect" explained Trevor.
How many are surviving?
55% (21) of all the road casualties had to be either taken straight to a vet and put down to end their suffering or they died on the road site. 6 casualties managed to avoid capture and escape injured, 2 have died in care, 3 have been passed to other organisations and 6 are currently in WRAS's care. "The survival rate of these casualties is much lower than 10 or 20 years ago whether this is down to the size and weight of vehicles, more lorries and vans on the roads, people driving faster at nights, I really am not sure" said Trevor.
"I really feel for both the suffering of the casualties and our volunteers, so many of these casualties just haven't stood a chance, and after a while seeing so many fatalities it really starts to effect you and I worry about some of our volunteers having to deal with these casualties as it isn't pleasant. I've hardened up over the past 28 years but you still get moments, especially when you are tired, when it reduces you to tears" said Trevor.
Despite WRAS being called out to 38 casualties in 27 days, there a hundreds more road casualties which can be found flattened on Sussex roads at the moment.
What should people do?
WRAS is urging people to take care and slow down. "Make a mental note of where you see dead road casualties and next time you pass that location slow down as often road casualties occur in very similar locations. If you do hit a casualties, primarily make sure you are safe and only stop if it is safe to do so, but please turn round and go back and check the casualty even if you just drive past slowly with your hazard lights on to see if it is still alive. If it is then please call a rescue organisation for help. If the casualty is a large animal, in the road and causing a hazard, like a deer for example, please call the police for assistance. If the casualty is small and you don't know who to contact, ring a local vet, as good caring professional vets will be happy to see casualties which are easy to handle or if more dangerous to handle like foxes, badgers and swans they will advise you who to contact" added Trevor, "whatever you do thought, please don't just keep driving and ignore it. The most common reason we hear people saying they couldn't stop is that they are worried about what their employer will say. Stopping because of a road casualty or being slightly late for work because you wanted to check a road casualty is not a sackable offence."
- END -
Trevor Weeks MBE - East Sussex WRAS: 01825 873003 or 07931 523958
Full List of Casualties
9/3/14 - Fox - Uckfield - Put to sleep at vets
9/3/14 - Rabbit - Polegate - Died at the road side
10/3/14 - Blackbird - Willingdon - Escaped capture but injured
10/3/14 - Pigeon - Eastbourne - Escaped capture but injured
13/3/14 - Pigeon - Eastbourne - Now in care
14/3/14 - Pheasant - Ripe - Died in care
15/3/14 - Fox - Brighton - Put to sleep at vets
16/3/14 - Robin - Hailsham - Died in care
16/3/14 - Hedgehog - Hailsham - Put to sleep at vets
19/3/14 - Gull - Henfield - Passed to more local organisation
19/3/14 - Pheasant - Chelwood Gate - Put to sleep at vets
19/3/14 - Badger - Blackboys - Died at the road side
20/3/14 - Rabbit - Eastbourne - Put to sleep at vets
22/3/14 - Fox - Seaford - Put to sleep at vets
22/3/14 - Fox - Battle - passed to another organisation as busy
26/3/14 - Duck - Golden Cross - Now In care
28/3/14 - Badger - Hastings - Put to sleep at vets
29/3/14 - Fox - Burwash - Put to sleep at vets
30/3/14 - Pigeon - Bexhill - Now in care
30/3/14 - Rabbit - Saltdean - Died at the road side
31/3/14 - Robin - Crowborough - passed on to more local organisation
31/3/14 - Dove - Hailsham - Escaped capture but injured
31/3/14 - Fox - Newhaven - Put to sleep at vets
1/4/14 - Fox Cub - Buxted - Escaped Capture but injured
1/4/14 - Badger - Friston - Died on site
2/4/14 - Gull - Eastbourne - Put to sleep at vets
2/4/14 - Rabbit - Lower Dicker - Escaped capture but injured
2/4/14 - Pigeon - Eastbourne - Now in care
3/4/14 - Hedgehog - Berwick - Put to sleep at vets
3/4/14 - Hedgehog - Newhaven - Now in care
3/4/14 - Fox - Seaford - Put to sleep at vets
3/4/14 - Rabbit - Eastbourne - Now in care
4/4/14 - Badger - Uckfield - Died at road side
4/4/14 - Badger - Ringmer - Died at road side
4/4/14 - Rabbit - Laughton - Escaped injured
4/4/14 - Gull - Seaford - Died at road side
4/4/14 - Pheasant - Lewes - Died at road side
4/4/14 - Fox - Polegate - Put to sleep at vets