Deer freed after dangerous rescue near Uckfield

VETERINARY ambulances from Uckfield and Polegate rushed to help an adult male fallow deer caught by its antlers in rope from an electric fence between Uckfield and Maresfield last Tuesday.

Volunteer rescuers Trevor Weeks (Uckfield,) Tony Neads (Polegate,) Kate Cuddis (Hove) and Plumpton College Student Zoe Langley (Lewes) attended but what faced them was a much more dangerous situation than was first thought.

Trevor Weeks, WRAS co-ordinator said: “The first call said a deer had its antlers stuck in barbed wire. These rescues are normally fairly straightforward but what greeted us was a large stag caught in electric fencing in the middle of a field. The deer could run back and forth for at least 40-50 metres away from the original fence line, making it a very dangerous and difficult rescue.”

Volunteers used a ‘walk-towards’ net like a tennis net with poles either end to catch the deer.

Tony Neads said: “Trevor took one end and I took the other and we slowly approached the deer. Twice it tripped over the rope from the fence and fell to the ground but we were not close enough to secure it safely. Eventually Trevor and I were able to walk either side of the deer, entangle it in our rescue net and pin it to the floor.”

Trevor explained deer rescues take a lot of skill to judge how animals will react. Their powerful rear legs are extremely dangerous and a heavy kick to a leg or arm would cause a fracture and a blow to your chest could kill you.

“In these situations we have a small time window in which to cut the deer free. Once caught the clock starts ticking and we must release the deer within 30 minutes otherwise it can have a heart attack. Whilst I sat on top of the deer so it couldn’t move, Tony and Kate cut the rope from the antlers, some of which were extremely tight and not easy to remove. The £120 walk-towards net had to be cut and destroyed in order to get the deer freed as soon as possible.

“Once the rescue equipment was free I did a controlled release. The stag stood up straight away and ran off across the field to safety. I’m not sure whose heart was racing the most, mine or the deer. I find these rescues so stressful as the deer do not know you are trying to help them. We were all pleased to see him free and run off.”