Plea to help wildlife struggling due to weather

An animal charity in East Sussex is urging people to help wildlife by ensuring fresh and hygienic food is available because of the number of wildlife casualties being admitted into care in emaciated and ill conditions due to the weather.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) has had an influx of casualties over the past month all suffering problems relating to the poor weather conditions for this time of year.

Assistant Manager Kate Cuddis said "On a daily basis we are receiving casualties which are struggling to find good food, or are ill as a result of eating rotting or poor quality food being so desperately hungry. We are trying our best to save as many as we can but these emaciation cases are not easy to deal with. The more emaciated the casualty the harder it is for them to recover, they suffer from stomach cramps when they start eating again which puts them of wanting to eat so they have to be carefully monitored and given medication to help out, and fed little and often. Sadly by the time a bird or animal is catchable the damage can be too severe, but we treat all casualties on a case by case basis and try our best for each one."

"WRAS has had numerous pigeons, doves, blackbirds, starlings, woodpeckers, bats, and hedgehogs all coming into care emaciated at a time of year when food should be plentiful. The changeable weather going from one extreme to another and the wetter than normal spring and summer is having a negative effect on the insect and beetle population at the base of the food chain, but also causing seed and other food sources to become saturated in the wet weather and prone to fungus and parasites. We have had pigeons coming in suffering from infections of their crops, including sour crop and canker. These conditions we normally see later in the year around Autumn not during the height of summer." said WRAS carer Kathy Martyn, from Uckfield.

"We have had higher than normal numbers of corvids (crow family) as well as sparrows, finches and doves coming in with calcium deficiency this summer. Again this is related to poor diets. These are problems we don't see often during the summer months. These casualties need to be kept for months to recover and cost a small fortune to feed and look after until they moult and produce new feathers. A number of hedgehogs have come in underweight and dehydrated struggling to find food too" Said Kathy.

"We are also being told by a number of bird watchers that the number of eggs being laid and the numbers surviving through to fledging are lower than normal as a result of the weather too. We have had baby and adult emaciated pipistrelle, and brown long eared bats found at Whitesmith, Laughton, Five Ashes, Crowborough, Battle and Lewes all starving hungry and in need of attention. A number of hedgehogs are being found out during the day time underweight, but also their normal summer homes are struggling with the wet weather and many hedgehogs are having to find alternative homes for this time of year. Not all wildlife is suffering though, as some birds and mammals around ponds and lakes are doing well as they are used to the wet conditions. Hedgehog are also coming into care emaciated too." added WRAS founder Trevor Weeks.

WRAS is asking people to ensure their bird tables are hygienic and clean and that waste food is cleaned up and discarded safely so it doesn’t cause a problem for birds nor spread disease. "Don't leave soaking bird seed out, clean it up and put fresh out, and clean the tables of faeces and old food to avoid infections being able to spread" said Trevor. Bird tables should ideally be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week and a veterinary disinfectant used. The charity is also asking people to put out fresh food bird food mixtures but to avoid whole nuts like peanuts which can cause blockages when eaten. WRAS is recommending that people go to our homepage and click on the link to 'Ark Wildlife' where bird food can be purchased and funds raised for WRAS at the same time. Anyone wanting to help WRAS's fight to support local wildlife can make a donation online or they can call 01825 873003 to make a donation over the phone.

"During dry spells please also remember to put out fresh water. So far in 2012 WRAS has dealt with over 1,000 wildlife casualties via its Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith. This time of year is extremely busy for us some days we can receive over 45 calls for help and advice. We are only a small local charity and it is physically and financially impossible for us to help everyone, but we want to help as many people as we can, so please make a donation to help us keep help as many people and casualties as possible" added Trevor.

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Press Contacts: Kathy Martyn - WRAS Carer: 07931 519646
Trevor Weeks MBE or Kate Cuddis - WRAS Casualty Care Centre: 01825 873003

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