Rescuers question RSPCA

Ducks that were put down by the RSPCA August 2014
Ducks that were put down by the RSPCA August 2014

A couple who run a Bexhill wildlife rescue centre have questioned why a local RSPCA centre put to sleep five chicks in their care.

The RSPCA has said the ducklings were beyond help but the couple believe they could have been saved.

Chris Tucker and Lynne Bigden were originally given eight motherless ducklings two weeks ago.

Chris called RSPCA’s Mallydams in Fairlight and several other sanctuaries to see if anyone could take the chicks but at that time all were full and they could not take them. Lynne said: “We temporarily homed the ducklings with a willing chicken who kept them warm.”

Following a subsequent call to Mallydams the couple were told that there was now room for the ducklings. Lynne said: “We ran through the stages they would go through to get them wild so that they would eventually be released. Chris took all eight ducklings to Mallydams for the next stage in their release process. Their life ended there. Mallydams put down five of the ducklings stating that they were ‘not developed enough to be released, were underweight, had poor feathers and were missing primary feathers’. There was nothing wrong with the ducklings that a little time would not have put right. They were late ducklings, hence their development was not as far forward as counterpart ducklings. Chris has since spoken to three other rescue centres who all state that the primary feathers would grow. If they were underfed, RSPCA could have fed them, and their poor feathers were because they were ducklings and still half covered in down.”

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “The RSPCA received eight ducklings (of approx six weeks old) from an independent wildlife rescuer on Tuesday August 11. Sadly five of the ducklings were suffering from poor health (including low weight and respiratory problems) as well as feather loss - as a result of feather pecking from other members of the flock.

“Staff at Mallydams did everything they could to help the ducklings but sadly, on vet advice five of the ducks had to be put to sleep to end their suffering. The remaining three duckling are well enough to be recuperating in the outside pool at the wildlife centre and will be released to a private nature reserve in the coming weeks. It is a sad reality of the work we do that not every animal can be saved. It was the opinion of our wildlife workers and a vet that the poor ducklings were suffering due to respiratory problems, low weight and feather loss,”

“Sadly, this meant five of the ducklings had little chance of quality of life and on vet advice, the difficult decision was made to put them to sleep. Thankfully, we have been able to save the remaining three ducklings and following treatment and TLC, they will be released to a private nature reserve in the coming weeks.”