TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Team of five in exhaustive rescue of Canadian goose

Having fallen head-first into the water in an attempt to grab the goose, we finally managed to rescue the bird.
Having fallen head-first into the water in an attempt to grab the goose, we finally managed to rescue the bird.
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This week has been a bit of shock to some of our newer volunteers as the season has become so busy, especially at night!

Our ambulances has been out to a fox with an injured leg which a lady managed to catch using a humane trap in Hastings; a swan crash landed and injured in Northbourne Road, Eastbourne; a orphaned duckling at Bodium Castle; a hatchling magpie; a pigeon caught in netting in Uckfield High Street again; a fox very concussed and acting strangely in Cooksbridge; a cat attacked bat in Seaford collected from Pet Doctors; a catted blackbird in Bowley Road, Hailsham; a road casualty fox in Dutchells Way, Eastbourne; an injured gull in St Wilfreds Green Hailsham; three nestling blackbirds in Pitreavie Drive Hailsham; an injured jackdaw at Millbrooks, South Chailey; an orphaned duckling a PGL Windmill Hill; a buzzard with a damaged wing at Summerhill Lane, Hailsham; an injured wood pigeon a Selmeston Road, Eastbourne and many more.

Trevor Weeks with his team and the Canadian goose, saved after an exhaustive three-hour rescue.

Trevor Weeks with his team and the Canadian goose, saved after an exhaustive three-hour rescue.

The most entertaining rescue of the week was that of a Canadian Goose. We sent a team of 5 rescuers and spent 3 hours rescuing the badly injured goose from a wooded pond at Herons Ghyll just north of Uckfield. A local resident found the goose whilst walking in the woodland several days previous, but struggled to find anyone to help.

The goose was dragging a wing in the water, and clearly was unable to fly. Rescuers had to use drysuits, an inflatable boat, swan hooks, rope, a long walk-to-wards net, and long handled poles and nets to catch the Canada Goose. The biggest problem we had was that the water was only a few inches deep, and the pond was full of wet soggy leaf litter, and fallen branches making it difficult to move around.

Rescuers put into place a plan to catch the goose into a net strung across the end of the pond. Rescuer Chris wearing waders and myself wearing a dry suit tried to encourage the goose up to the far end of the pond where waiting rescuers were ready to spring into action. The first attempt failed as I struggled to get far enough out to block the gooses escape route. We then brought in an inflatable boat and I paddled out the best I could, but movement was restricted due to the branches under the water. The second attempt worked better but as the goose tried to run past me I reached for the goose tipping out of the boat and landing head first into the water and mud!

Everyone was worried about me landing face down in the water, but I just couldn’t help laughing! It was a bit of a struggle to get out, but once I got my legs over the hidden branches I was able to pull myself out.

We decided that as it was so difficult to move the boat around, we would tie rope to either side of the boat so rescuers could pull me in the boat across and along the pond to help encourage the goose towards the net and rescuers.

For the third attempt the net was moved to a different location and almost worked but rescuers didn’t get close enough to catch the goose at the net which it managed to escape from. The fourth attempt worked well and slowly inch by inch rescuers managed to get closer and surround the goose so as it ran towards the net it was quickly caught and secured.

After a quite frustrating and long winded rescue, everyone ended up having a good laugh as rescuer Kathy took a step in the wrong direction and suddenly found herself waist deep in soggy leaf litter. I take my hat off to all of our rescuers as they try so hard to rescue casualties and these rescues can get very tiring and exhausting. We also have to ensure the casualty doesn’t get too stressed out, so you have to space out your attempts to avoid wearing the poor creature out.

Rescuer Kathy and Chris took the goose back the ambulance and assessed its condition whilst the other rescuers cleared up the rescue equipment.

Back at the ambulance we were able to check the injury to the wing which was clearly old and badly infected. We decided that emergency medication was required, so pain relief was given under the instruction from one of our vets, and the goose transported back to WRAS’s Casualty Centre to better assessment. The Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton have been contacted and the goose is being transferred to their sanctuary for assessment by their specialist vets. Sadly the goose will never be releasable back to the wild but hopefully a good home will be found by the Swan Sanctuary.

WRAS rescuers have been worked exceptionally hard over the past couple of weeks with rescuers Chris, Tony and I frequently working through the day and into the early hours of the morning undertaking rescues. Calls since the clocks changed and over the Easter Holidays have exploded and we have been so busy. Last years changes and expansion has helped and deal with these busy period better, but it is a struggle, but we are coping. We still need more funds to help with expansion and for covering the costs of treating all our casualties.

Anyone wanting to support WRAS by setting up a standing order for as little as £1 a month should contact WRAS on 01825-873003 or donate online at www.wildlifeambulance.org.