90 minutes rescue of fox trapped in barge at Newhaven Harbour

Five volunteer rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) spent over 90 minutes trying to catch a fox which had fallen into a barge in the River Ouse at Newhaven Harbour today (Thursday 19th July 2012). Two ambulances with rescuers from Uckfield, Polegate, Hailsham and Seaford, attended on site.

A ladder was used to get down into the Barge and at first rescuers were perplexed as to where the fox has disappeared to, but it was eventually found hidden between two large 20 metre long metal girders. Rescuers initially tried to strap poles together to try and push the fox out but these broke, so two sets of drainage rods were sent for and used to push the fox out to waiting rescuers.

Rescuer were positioned and waiting and managed to successfully catch the fox, which at first was thought to be injured. Rescuers then had to get the fox out of the barge up the ladder before loading him into the back of one of WRAS’s waiting ambulances.

Back at WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith, the fox was checked over and found not to be injured except a small graze to the mouth where the fox had tried to bite the catch net. The fox was given the all clear for release and is due to be released late at night back at the port.

"It was not an easy rescue, with the barge gently moving from side to side, and having to be careful of the metal girders ensuring we didn’t trip over or injure ourselves, and the fox so far inside between the girders, we were not sure if we would be able to get to the fox. We also got rather wet as there was water inside the barge too. After breaking a couple of poles, we drove across to the industrial estate and purchased a couple of packs of drainage rods and these proved to be much better and easier to use. This time the fox started to move closer to the end but on a few occasions it got past the rods and we had to go back and re-start. Eventually the fox came out the end tried to jump up the side of the barge and then leg it across the vessel where rescuer Tony was waiting with a net and managed to secure it. We secured the fox and then had the difficult job of getting out of the barge, but we were able to push him up the ladder and out with rescuers either end. The fox was then taken to WRAS Casualty Centre for assessment. This was one of the most problematic rescues we have had for a while now" said WRAS found and lead rescuer Trevor Weeks MBE.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks - East Sussex WRAS: 01825 873003 or 07931 523958

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