White (albino?) deer rescued from rope swing near Mayfield

Volunteer rescuers had a surprise when they turned up for a deer rescue to find it was completely white and thought to be an albino deer. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) were called about 3pm yesterday (Wednesday 22nd April) about a deer caught in a rope at Mayfield. Volunteer rescuers Trevor Weeks and Kathy Martyn from Uckfield and Tony Neads from Polegate attended on site. The completely white male fallow deer had its antlers caught in the rope from a rope swing in a woodland. The deer was thrashing around at the top of a 20ft sheer drop to a stream.

Rescuers managed to get a special net round the deer to help secure the animal. Tony was able to grab hold of the antlers and secure the deers head, allowing Trevor to grab the rear legs and secure the deer to the ground. With the deer secure on the ground, Trevor held the antlers whilst Tony and Kathy started cutting the antlers free from the rope.

"You have a 30 minute window once you have caught the deer to cut it free from these situation or they become too stressed and can die" said Trevor Weeks Rescue Co-ordinator for WRAS, "it was certainly a challenging environment to work in and for once I was actually quite worried about how we were going to catch and secure the deer safely without injury to ourselves. On one side there was a sheer drop of about 20ft into a stream and barbed wire on the ground. Luckily the deer had already wrapped the rope round a couple of trees restricting the deers ability to move about but you still need to be very careful of the antlers and legs flying about."

Luckily once caught the deer took just 10 minutes to cut the rope and unravel the entangled antlers. Once free, Tony had to clear away the rope from the trees to prevent the deer becoming entangled again on release. Trevor checked over the deer to ensure there were no injuries. Once clear Tony and Kathy stood clear and Trevor uncovered the deers head and carefully stood clear allowing the deer to jump up and run off back to the wild. Trevor then used a ladder from one of the veterinary ambulances to climb up and cut away the rope swing from the tree completely.

"This is the first time WRAS has been called to a white deer which we think might also be an albino deer. The nose, eyes and even the deer hooves were more red then usual. True albino deer are extremely rare but we think this might actually be one. Frequently very light coated fallow deer are seen but they are not true albino deer showing darker coat colouration elsewhere on the body but this deer was the same white colour all over" said Trevor.

Rope swings are a danger in woodlands for deer and WRAS has rescued several from around East Sussex over the past five year.

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

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