Rescuers struggle under the strain of Spring and Summer calls

Volunteers at East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) are asking people to be more supportive and understanding during the busy spring and summer season after a spate of rude and abusive calls.

Trevor Weeks founder of East Sussex WRAS who mans the rescue line 24 hours a day almost 365 days a year said "It is getting very difficult to cope with the calls coming in at this time of year, and despite trying our best to deal with as much as we can and help as many people as we can, it is financially and physically impossible for us to help everyone and deal with all calls. Getting abusive, being rude, accusing us of being uncaring, or trying to use emotional blackmail, threatening to complain to local MPs or the Charities Commission really doesn't help. Finding a wildlife casualty is stressful and we try our best to help take in what we can or guide people toward other organisations which might be able to help."

"We only have a limited number of spaces at our hospital which is almost full, we also have numerous casualties at home with various people being hand reared but we only have a limited number of volunteers who are willing to put in the round the clock commitment to looking after the baby casualties. We have over 75 casualties in care at the moment. We have taken on more casualties this spring and summer than in any previous year. This time of year is always difficult for all rescue centres up and down the country that quickly become full and have to start turning casualties away," said Trevor.

Some of the casualties currently in care include a baby roe deer, 21 fox cubs, numerous pigeons, two ducks, a goose, over 10 hedgehogs and various garden birds too.

The recent closure of National Gull Rescue and Protection (NGRP) is leading to a massive increase in calls for gull rescue which we were not expecting to deal with this summer. Since the NGRP closed in April we have had over 150 calls for help regarding gulls. We have dealt with numerous road casualties and other injuries but we currently are not set up for the rehabilitation of gulls back to the wild as we donated our suitable pens to the gull rescue when they started a few years ago and needed help.

Although Trevor is now funded by International Animal Rescue to help WRAS for 21 hours a week he voluntarily works between 10-15 hours a day and frequently answering calls during the night and early hours of the morning. Trevor has been helping people who find wildlife casualties for over 25 years now. "People think we are much bigger than we actually are, and that like the RSPCA we have a call centre but if you call WRAS's rescue line out of hours you basic wake me up, sadly I have missed several calls as a result of being so tired I have slept through even the phone ringing. I sincerely wish I could do more and answer everyone's calls but I physically can't and it is difficult finding people who are happy to put in the commitment and hours that are needed. If only casualties happened Monday to Friday 9 till 5.30pm. WRAS is one of the few wildlife rescue organisations which operate during the night."

"We are receiving up to 40 calls a day at the moment, some are advisory, and others involve rescues. We are not super human and can physically only do so much. The average cost of being on call for and responding to a single call-out and then rehabilitating that casualty back to the wild is £75. We have been told by several trusts that we are very cost effective in the way we operate which is why we manage to achieve so much with so little funding. If you compare us to various other wildlife charities like Wildlife Aid, St Tiggywinkles, and other human charities we are run successfully on a very small income" said Trevor.

"It is amazing that people seem to think that being a charity we have to be at their beck and call. We do as much as we can and help over 2200 calls for help each year. Sadly we have to have limits as the welfare of the animals already in our care has to be paramount and we must ensure that they are looked after properly. Many small groups or individuals try to set up and help everything and do not know when to say no and this all too often leads to them closing down as they run out of money or being closed down as they can't take care of or cope with the quantity of casualties in their care. The last thing I want is the casualties in WRAS's care being neglected because we are over loaded and can't cope. In the long run we will be able to save and help many more casualties as a result," said Trevor.

WRAS is urging people to help out by donating funds so that WRAS can afford to finish off the new hospital started last year and complete works already started, so yet more casualties can be cared for. Anyone interested in volunteering, helping to rear baby birds or fledglings, being involved in rescue work or helping with fundraising is asked to contact WRAS via e-mail trevor@eastsussexwras.org.uk.

Much needed donations can be made online. BY Post to East Sussex WRAS, PO Box 2148, Seaford, BN25 9DE or by texting WRAS11 followed by the amount in pounds you wish to donated to 70070. E.g. WRAS22 £10.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, Director, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958

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