TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Fallow buck in Hellingly rescued after twine is caught in its anklers

The fallow buck in Hellingly with twine caught in its anklers.
The fallow buck in Hellingly with twine caught in its anklers.

The month of January is well known for being all about swans and foxes. We’ve certainly had our fair share of both this month.

Last week alone we received more than seven foxes – most of them road casualties, with internal bleeding but a few which have been suspected of poisoning and we are in the process of getting them tested. We hope to let you know next week the outcome of these tests.

The fallow buck in Hellingly with twine caught in its anklers.

The fallow buck in Hellingly with twine caught in its anklers.

Fox call outs have included ones in Arlington Road and Kings Drive Eastbourne and Belgrave Road in Seaford. The fox we had from New Priory Vets in Brighton a few weeks ago, has been returned and released in Hove close to where found. This was a relief as the fox was trashing his cage every night. We still have one fox in care at the moment which is in our outside pen at Lewes but even this one we hope to return to Hailsham this week.

The weekend saw us deal with another fallow buck rescue with massive palmate antlers. The dramatic rescue took place on the edge of woodland between Mill Lane and Grove Hill behind Shawpits Cottages, at Hellingly. Kathy, Chris and I jumped in the ambulance and rushed to the scene. The rescue proved to be very difficult. The antlers had bailer twine wrapped round them which had become caught on barbed wire. Due to the shortness of the twine, it made it very difficult to gain control of the deer which was kicking its legs and throwing its body around.

Our first couple of attempts to catch the deer and pin it down were not successful. In a rather risky manoeuvre, we had to pass either end of the “walk-to-wards” net through the fence so that it wrapped round the deer restricting its movements. From behind the safety of a small tree, I was then able to grab one of its rear legs and pull the deer to the floor. With its head covered, I was then able to gain full control of the deer by climbing on its back. Chris and Kathy then set about cutting the twine. This might sound easy but is actually quite difficult as it is tightly attached to the antlers and split into multiple strands. The time it took us to gain control and cut the deer free was about 15 minutes but the deer was getting very stressed. Chris and Kathy did a great job cutting the twine and freeing the deer and then releasing him back to the wild.

The release was definitely less risky than the previous one feature on BBC countryfile! The video of the release is also on our You Tube channel as well as our website www.wildlifeambulance.org

A hypothermic pheasant was found on the grass verge of the A22 dual carriageway. Rescuer Chris pulled over and at first though the pheasant was dead, but on closer inspection it was still alive. Amazingly the pheasant was covered by frost and grit from the road. Back at WRAS’s Casualty Centre the bird was gently warmed up. Our vet Mike arrived to examine the injuries but sadly they were too extensive to survive from, so we had to end its suffering.

A quick thank you to everyone who visited us at the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne last week. We raised an amazing £365.82 which is fantastic news and very much needed at the moment.

A road casualty Tawny Owl has been in care for the past couple of weeks. The owl was found very concussed at the side of the road at Plumpton Green. Concussion often lasts for a number of days but on this occasion it took more than a week. With supportive hand feeding and medication, the owl slowly improved. Amazingly, overnight, the owl was up on its perch and fighting fit clearly out of the concussion. We kept the owl for several more days to build up its strength and ensure it could fly strongly enough. Rescuers Dave and Chris took him back out to the woods next to the road where he was found and released him back to the wild just before dusk. You can see a video of the owl being released at our You Tube page www.youtube.com/user/eastsussexwras.

You may well have already seen in the media about a Tawny Owl which was repeatedly run over on the Broyle at Ringmer last week. This tragic story even appears on the Mail Online. Most people who read this column will already know who to call and I hope none of you would use your car to end the suffering of a casualty which can cause immense suffering. This is always best left to a vet or trained person to euthanase properly. Many people think vets don’t deal with wildlife or will charge a fortune, and leads to many people leaving casualties as they feel there is nothing they can do. Although most vets charge organisations like WRAS for dealing with casualties (albeit often discounted or certain services for free), they do not charge members of the public. Good vets will put to sleep seriously injured casualties or stabilise those which can be passed over to rescue centres like WRAS without charging members of the public. But please do not try to move or transport the more difficult or dangerous casualties like foxes, badgers and swans for example.