A team of 5 rescuers spent 3 hours rescuing a badly injured goose from a wooded pond at Herons Ghyll just north of Uckfield, East Sussex. A local resident found the goose whilst walking in the woodland several days ago and had struggled to find anyone to help before contacting East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS).
Two veterinary ambulances from the charitiy's base at Whitesmith attended on site transporting 5 rescuers to the site. The goose was dragging a wing in the water, and clearly was unable to fly. Rescuers had to use drysuits, an inflatable boat, swan hooks, rope, a long walk-to-wards net, and long handled poles and nets to catch the Canada Goose.
"The biggest problem we had was that the water was only a few inches deep, and the pond was full of wet soggy leaf litter, and fallen branches making it difficult to move around" explained Trevor Weeks MBE founder of WRAS.
Rescuers put into place a plan to catch the goose into a net strung across the end of the pond. Rescuers Chris wearing waders and Trevor wearing a dry suit tried to encourage the goose up to the far end of the pond where waiting rescuers were ready to spring into action. The first attempt failed as Trevor struggled to get far enough out to block the gooses escape route. Rescuers then brought in an inflatable boat and Trevor paddled out the best he could, but movement was restricted due to the branches under the water. The second attempt worked better but as the goose tried to run past Trevor he reached for the goose tipping out of the boat landing head first into the water.
"Everyone was worried about me landing face down in the water, but I just couldn't help laughing! It was a bit of a struggle to get out, but once I got my legs over the hidden branches I was able to pull myself out" said Trevor.
Rescuers decided that as it was so difficult to move the boat around, they would tie rope to either side of the boat so rescuers could pull Trevor in the boat across and along the pond to help encourage the goose towards the net and rescuers.
For the third attempt the net was moved to a different location and almost worked but rescuers didn't get close enough to catch the goose at the net which it managed to escape from. The fourth attempt worked well and slowly inch by inch rescuers managed to get closer and surround the goose so as it ran towards the net it was quickly caught and secured.
"After a quite frustrating and long winded rescue, everyone ended up having a good laugh as rescuer Kathy took a step in the wrong direction and suddenly found herself waist deep in soggy leaf litter. I take my hat off to all of our rescuers as they try so hard to rescue casualties and these rescues can get very tiring and exhausting. We also have to ensure the casualty doesn't get too stressed out, so you have to space out your attempts to avoid wearing the poor creature out" said Trevor
Rescuer Kathy and Chris took the goose back the ambulance and assessed its condition whilst the other rescuers cleared up the rescue equipment.
"Back at the ambulance we were able to check the injury to the wing which was clearly old and badly infected. We decided that emergency medication was required, so pain relief was given under the instruction from one of our vets, and the goose transported back to WRAS's Casualty Centre to better assessment. The Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton have been contacted and the goose is being transferred to their sanctuary for assessment by their specialist vets. Sadly the goose will never be releasable back to the wild but hopefully a good home will be found by the Swan Sanctuary" said Rescuer Kathy.
WRAS rescuers have been worked exceptionally hard over the past couple of weeks with rescuers Trevor, Chris and Tony frequently working through the day and onto the early hours of the morning undertaking rescues. "Calls since the clocks changed and over the Easter Holidays have exploded and we have been so busy. Last years changes and expansion has helped and deal with these busy period better, but it is a struggle, but we are coping. We still need more funds to help with expansion and for covering the costs of treating all our casualties" said Trevor.
Anyone wanting to support WRAS by setting up a standing order for as little as £1 a month should contact WRAS on 01825 873003 or donate online.
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Trevor Weeks MBE - East Sussex WRAS: 01825 873003 or 07931 523958