Difficult deer rescue at Abbots Wood, Hailsham

Volunteer rescuers from Uckfield and Polegate rushed to the aid of a young juvenile female roe deer caught in stock fencing in Abbots Wood, Arlington near Hailsham on Saturday morning.

Several dog walkers discovered the young deer weighing about 18kg caught in stock fencing in the popular Abbots Wood. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) send the local ambulance from Polegate to the scene and despatched the specialist large animal ambulance from Uckfield too.

On scene rescuer Trevor Weeks, Kathy Martyn, Tony and Claire Neads were faced with a difficult rescue as the deer was caught in a narrow gap between two fences. Whilst trying to jump over one of the fences one of the deer's rear legs caught one of the wires in the stock fencing which then twisted and clamped against her hock joint, causing her to hit the ground and hang from the fence.

Lead rescuer Trevor approached the deer and covered its head to keep the deer calm, before cutting the wire clamped around the leg. "It was a difficult working environment as the gap between the fences was narrow and every time I stood up I kept catching my jacket on the barbed wire, which seemed completely pointless and unnecessary on this fence which was not being used to keep in cattle or any other livestock" said Trevor.

Rescuers helped a couple of dog walkers, then helped hold the stretcher up as Trevor lifted the deer up and over the fence and onto the stretcher, where it was secured in place. "It was very awkward, and I had to lift the deer from the rear as it was impossible to stand in the normal position, but we managed and settled her down on the stretcher" added Trevor.

Emergency medication was given before walking the 15 minute journey back to the veterinary ambulance. "This was not an easy task in itself, as we had to have people walking in front to ask dog walkers to hold onto their dogs as we passed to avoid any dogs trying to have a go at the deer as we carried her to the ambulance," said rescuer Tony Neads, "she was certainly getting heavy by the time we got back to the ambulance."

She was transported back to WRAS's Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith where her ligature wounds were better assessed and treated. "She is extremely lucky and we feel she has not been caught for as long the other 7 baby deer caught in fencing dealt by WRAS this year. Ligature wounds can be invisible but still fatal. She is going to need at least a weeks' worth of observations before we will have a more accurate idea as to how serious the ligature wounds are" said Trevor.

"Roe deer are very flakey animals so do not tolerate stress and trauma anywhere near as well as the fallow deer. She is now in one of the deer pens and being monitored by WRAS's Deer foster parents Chris and Sylvia. By Sunday lunchtime she was starting to eat and drink and we hope she is settling down and picking up but she is not out of the woods yet" said rescuer Kathy.

WRAS has dealt with over twice as many baby deer this year than any previous year. In 2010 WRAS dealt with 7 baby deer so far in 2011 WRAS has dealt with 15 so far. "Deer are not cheap animals to treat, house or feed, but we are pulling the stops out to try and help as many as we can. No where is able to take them in the is area and we can no longer take them to the specialist Deer Hospital in Buckinghamshire" said Trevor.

She has been called "Dacey" which means wild thing. Rescuers hope that Dacey will recover and be able to be released.

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

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