21 hours of rescues!

Yesterday (29 April) saw volunteer rescuers dedicate 22 hours continuously from 6.30am till 4.30am this morning undertaking rescues!

At 6.30am yesterday morning WRAS received a call about a baby badger which had fallen down an embankment wall into a garden in Hastings and could not climb back out. Trevor Weeks Rescue Co-ordinator for WRAS attended on site at about 7.30am to find a young badger very lively running round the garden franticly trying to get out. The badger promptly hid behind a shed which make capture very difficult.

"We were initially concerned as there was blood on the patio but once we had caught the badger we could see that it was luckily just minor damage to a couple of toe nails" said Trevor, "once the badger was secure in our ambulance, I checked the waste ground at the back of the garden to look for badger pathways and a sett that was thought to be near by which I quickly found only 10 metres of from the garden. A badger path ran along the top of the wall before going under a fence, I’m convinced that this badger had tried to follow its mum and fallen from the wall into the garden."

The badger was taken back to WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre at Horsebridge where she was examined by staff from Horsebridge Veterinary Practice who gave the badger an antibiotic injection and quickly checked the badger over to ensure there were no further injuries and problems. The badger was eventually bedded down in the Care Centre at 10.30am.

Shortly after this two calls came in about injured gulls in Eastbourne. Rescuer Tony Neads attended one in Chiswick Place Eastbourne whilst Trevor attended one outside Bishop Bell School Eastbourne. These were taken to Horsebridge where they were X-rays. The Bishop Bell School gull appeared to be a road casualty and the Chiswick Place gull had been shot through the wing. These birds were medicated and one had its wing bandaged, to be reassessed the following day.

Three other advisory calls were received about mange foxes and a duck with a poorly leg which can still fly. Trevor then attempted to return home for lunch but was called back to Eastbourne to deal with a fox cub found in a dust bin at the bottom of a garden in Eastbourne. Trevor arrived and met fellow rescuer Barry Osbourne who had manged to track down the cub after hearing it crying for two nights. The cub was stuck in the bottom of an old style round plastic dust bin hidden in bushes at the bottom of the garden.

"I am not sure how the cub managed to get in there" said Trevor, "there are some wood chippings piled up at one side but not tall enough for the cub to get in. Mum would not have been able to reach in and get her cub. We felt we had no choice but to bring the little chap in and check him over, make sure he was OK and then try and get him back to his mum later in the night."

The cub was taken back to Horsebridge where he was checked over by the veterinary staff before being bedded down for the rest of the day. Finally at 5.30pm Trevor managed to stop and briefly for some dinner before having to organise and set up the badger and fox cub release attempts. Rescuer Tony Neads on the other hand was off catching another injured gull in Eastbourne which was waterlogged and unable to fly.

At 7.30pm Trevor return to Horsebridge to deal collect the fox and badger cubs. The fox cub was delivered down to Eastbourne where the cub was placed in a special container with a loose cover so that the cub could not escape but mum could safely reach in and collect the cub if she returned. Rescuer Barry Osbourne sat in the conservatory to watch to see if mum returned whilst Trevor returned the badger cub to Hastings. At 10pm Trevor released the badger cub on the waste land near the wall which the cub fell down close to the sett. "The cub really wanted to go and could not wait to return to his sett. When I opened the cage door he quickly came out sniffed around an bit and wandered off straight to the sett and down one of the holes, it was really nice to see him go back to his family, I bet mum had missed him" said Trevor.

Trevor returned to Eastbourne at about 11pm to take over from Barry with the attempt to reunite the fox cub with mum. "Unfortunately the wind was very strong and it was horrible rain too, so the conditions for the release were not looking good. We did see one fox on one occasion but that was it. By 3am we decided to call it a day, we were all very tired and were having difficulty keeping our eyes open. By 4.30am I was shattered and could hardly stay awake." said Trevor.

The fox cub was returned to Horsebridge bedded down. Trevor eventually returned home at 4.30am. The entire day was filmed by a film crew from BBC1’s Animal 24:7 programme and these rescues should be aired later in the year.

"We are almost 400 calls up on this time last year having dealt with over 750 incidents in total so far this year. Our volunteers have been very dedicated and really have been valuable. I certainly would not have been able to cope with this work load on my own like I used to. Without their help I would have burnt myself out by now" said Trevor, "in addition to how busy I have been we have also had volunteers in cleaning and feeding the casualties in our Care Centre, our Casualty Care Manager Tim has been busy all day looking after and feeding some of the more specialist animals in care too."

Trevor alone drove 189 miles yesterday dealing with these casualties. Dealing with these casualties has cost at least £400 in veterinary fees and motor expenses. The total number of volunteer hours put in yesterday was over 57 hours.

East Sussex WRAS is getting busier and busier and need help to keep the valuable service running. Donations can be sent to WRAS’s Treasurer at Ash Cottage, 73 Friday Street, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN23 8AY. Video footage of some rescues can be viewed via the charities website www.wildlifeambulance.org or via YouTube.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958
Tim McKenzie, East Sussex WRAS, 0781 310 3474

Photos and Filming: It is possible to arrange photos and filming of the birds at Horsebridge and interview WRAS rescuers and veterinary staff at Horsebridge Veterinary Practice by contacting Trevor Weeks on the above number.

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