A volunteer rescue service has been busier this year than in any previous year helping to rescue gull chicks falling off roof tops. So far in 2009 WRAS has been called out to over 200 call-outs to gull chicks in trouble and just over half of them have been returned to their parents thanks to WRAS's two main ambulances which carry ladders. The rest of them have either died from injuries or ill health or been taken in for hand rearing. These figures are up on last year which is probably more to do with WRAS being the only organisation which carries ladders and is capable of returning gull chick to their parents and due to other organisations just telling people to leave them under bushes for cats to take.
The Herring Gull is now on the Red Data List, the highest status awarded by the RSPB to a bird species, due their declining numbers across the UK. There are less breeding pairs of Herring gulls than there are Gannets, Kittiwakes, Puffins, Razorbills, Moorhens, Blackbirds, Song thrushes and Robins to name a few.
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) is at the fore front of conservation work helping breeding pairs in East Sussex survive. "For years we used to bring in gull chicks and hand rear them but over the past two year we have put ladders on our two main ambulances and tried to return as many as possible to their parents. This way they will stand a much better chance of survive learning skills from their parents and in the long run be more likely to survive too" said Trevor Weeks WRAS's rescue co-ordinator.
"Many people don't like gulls but they are part of our coastal heritage and it would be a sad day when there are not gulls on our coast. Most of the 12 species of gull in the UK are either on the Red Data List or given Amber Conservation Status by the RSPB due to there declining numbers. Many people in Brighton and Hove as well as other coastal town have reported a decline in the populations since wheelie bins were installed. The dwindling fish stocks certainly don't help either which makes it harder to find food. However, residents feeding gulls in their gardens in the middle of built up areas is not the answer as this can lead to an over population of a small area and as a result we find rescuers having to rescue gulls which have been shot and killed as a result. We need to preserve their natural habitat and food sources so they have a long term sustainable population." said Trevor.
WRAS has been inundated with calls this year to gull chicks and have not been able to keep up with the workload as a result. "We are trying our best but as a small voluntary group but our funds are limited and we can only be in so many places at once. Monday WRAS received 96 phone calls alone of which over 30 of them required on-site call-outs" said Tim McKenzie WRAS Casualty Care Manager who was on duty on Monday.
"WRAS is not just here for the animals and we do appreciate the problems which dive bombing gulls can cause and how frightening it can be for members of the public especially the elderly and disabled who can't move quickly. Most of the time we can move the gull chicks back up onto the roof tops and they are fine and the parents soon stop dive bombing again and the residents can continue their lives normally again" said Trevor.
"Anyone finding a gull chick fallen off a roof should attemp to place the bird back onto the roof. It doesn't have to be back where the nest is but onto the same roof and they will normally walk back up and sit with their parents. However please only put them back if you are sure it is the roof that they fell off as the neighbouring parents will attack a chick otherwise." said Trevor.
WRAS is also warning students at school to be careful and advising teachers to take the issue of cruelty seriously as WRAS has been called to three community colleges in East Sussex recently where students have caused serious suffering and on once occasion the death of a gull chick or even an adult gull. WRAS is not prepared to name these school at the moment but will do if the teachers do not take the issue seriously.
Advice and information is available from WRAS either on their rescue line 07815-078234 or via their website www.wildlifeambulance.org. However WRAS is urging people that their volunteers can only help provide such support is donation continue to come in and help support the costs involved. Hand rearing a gull chick is not cheap and the petrol involved in attending calls, paying for insurance, phone bills, equipment, animal food, rent for our care centre and carriers all costs money and this is all fund by donations and out of the generousity of the the volunteers involved who frequently paid for the costs out of their own pockets. Trevor Weeks recently cashed in his pension savings in order to help keep WRAS on the road.
Donations can be made online or by sending a cheque or postal order payable to East Sussex WRAS to Julia Bond, East Sussex WRAS, Po Box 2148, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 9DE.
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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958
If you would like to speak to a representative from the UK Border Agency at Newhaven please contact Trevor Weeks on the above number for contact information.