13cm dart removed from duck’s neck at Lewes

Members of the public, a council ranger and volunteer rescuers spent almost an hour trying to catch a duck with a 13cm long dart through its neck at the Pells Pond, Lewes, East Sussex today (New Year's Eve).

Trevor Weeks, Tony and Claire Neads from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS), were called to the Pells Pond, Lewes about 12.30pm on New Year’s Eve. Several worried members of the public helped the volunteer rescuers using long handled catch nets round the pond. Rescuers Tony Neads wearing a dry suit climbed into the pond soon followed by WRAS rescuer Trevor Weeks and Lewes Council Ranger Chris Kemp wearing just their ordinary clothes in a desperate attempt to catch the duck.

The 13cm long dart thought to be from a blowpipe had gone through the muscle in the neck of the male duck not far from the spine. "Slightly lower and the dart could have paralysed the duck. It took five attempts to catch the duck, which was mobile and could fly, but was clearly not at fully strength. Without the help of the public, there is no way we would have been able to catch this duck. Lewes resident Jack Lee eventually caught the duck as it emerged after diving through the water" said Trevor Weeks.

A second dart was found embedded in a piece of wood at the site, and a fisherman mentioned that a third dart has been removed from the wing of a duck the previous day.

"This is very worrying, and Council Ranger Chris Kemp has informed Sussex Police who are now investigating the incident. Anyone who has witnessed anyone using a blowpipe or similar device in or around Lewes over the festive season should contact Sussex Police by dialing 101 and quoting reference 0871 of 31st December 2011. I hope that this is not some sick Christmas present being used to cause cruelty" said Trevor.

The duck was taken to East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service's Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith where the dart was carefully removed and the wound cleaned and medicated. "The duck has settled in well, and is eating and drinking, but is not out of the woods yet. We have a wound going through the neck and a slight infection which needs to be dealt with before the duck can be released back into the wild" said Trevor.

"What a sad end to 2011, I hope we don't have anything like this to deal with in 2012. We would like to thank the members of the public, especially Jack Lee, and council ranger Chris Kemp for all their help, it is nice to see that the sad people who cause cruelty to animals like this are in the minority." added Trevor.

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Press Contacts: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931-523958 (anytime) or 01825 873003 (office hours). Lewes Council Ranger Chris Kemp and Sussex Police are prepared to make comments on request. Further Pictures taken by Trevor Weeks of East Sussex WRAS. Video of the dart in the duck's neck and its removal are available on request.

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