Successful dangerous deer rescue near Uckfield

Veterinary ambulances from Uckfield and Polegate rushed to the aid of an adult male fallow deer caught by its antlers in strands of rope from an electric fence today. Volunteer rescuers Trevor Weeks (Uckfield), Tony Neads (Polegate) and Kate Cuddis (Hove) and Plumpton College Student Zoe Langley (who lives in Lewes and is on a work experience placement) attended on site but what faced them was a much more dangerous situation that was first thought.

"The initial call we received was saying a deer had its antlers stuck in barbed wire from a fence, these rescues are normally fairly straightforward to deal with, but what greeted us was a large stag caught in the rope of an electric fencing in the middle of a field. The deer was able to run back and forth for at least 40-50 metres in either direction away from the original fence line, making it a very dangerous and difficult rescue" said Trevor Weeks, WRAS's Rescue Co-ordinator.

Volunteers used a "walk-to-wards" net which looks very much like a tennis caught net with poles at the end to catch the deer.

"Trevor took one end and I took the other and we slowly approached the deer, a couple of times the deer tripped over the rope from the fence and fell to the ground but we were not close enough to secure the deer safely, eventually by reading the deer's behaviour, Trevor and I were able to walk either said of the deer and entangle it in our rescue net and then pin it to the floor" said senior rescuer Tony Neads.

Deer rescues like this are dangerous and it takes a lot of skill to read caught animals and judge how they are going to react. Their strong and powerful rear legs are extremely dangerous and a heavy kick to a leg or arm would cause a fracture and a blow to your chest could kill you.

"In these situations we have a small window of time in which to cut the deer free, once caught the clock starts ticking and we must release the deer within 30 minutes otherwise the deer is likely to have a heart attack. Whilst I sat on top of the deer securing its ability to move Tony and Kate set about cutting the rope from the antlers, some of which were extremely tight and not easy to remove. The £120 walk-to-wards net had to be cut and destroyed in order to get the deer freed as soon as possible." Said Trevor.

"Once the rope was removed and the walk-to-wards net was being pulled free the deer tried to struggle and we had to back away for safety whilst Trevor regained control of the deer for a few seconds, it was a bit of a battle between the deer and Trevor. He wasn't going to let the deer get the better of him or it could end seriously injury me, but having quite a few years of experience I managed to keep him under control. Once the rescue equipment was free and the other rescuers had backed off, I did a controlled release. The stag stood up straight away and ran off across the field to safety. I'm not sure whose heart was racing the most mine or the deer? I find these rescues so stressful as the deer do not know you are trying to help them. We were all pleased to see him free and run off" said Trevor Weeks.

"We would like to remind people that these rescues are very dangerous and members of the public should not attempt such rescues and is asking people not to cut deer free so that they run off trailing loads of line, rope, wire or netting as deer often become caught a second time as a result. The second time the deer back become caught in an area where it is not found and have a slow horrible death. When we catch deer we always aim to remove all the rope or wire to avoid the animal experiencing further problems" said Trevor.

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

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