TREVOR WEEKS MBE - Grey seal in 30-hour rescue abut focus was on Hedgehog Awareness Week

WRAS May 10
WRAS May 10

The large grey seal at Hope Gap last week, was not the same seal which has been seen in local rivers recently which is actually a smaller common seal. We spent over 30 hours dealing with this seal which was clearly very poorly and ill. It was hoped the seal would move to a more suitable location so initially just monitored but after two tides it was clear the seal wasn’t going to move. Adult grey seals which can weigh up to 350kg are normally very dangerous and you shouldn’t go or be able to get anywhere near them. This seal was letting people and dog walkers get right up close and to touch him. Thanks to vets from Beachwood Vets in Seaford, the seal was sedated and euthanased very efficiently, professionally and with the greatest respect for this amazing creature. The biggest problem came when we had to remove the seal from the beach which couldn’t be left due to the drugs used, a joint effort by the Fire Brigade and Newhaven Coastguard saw the seal winched up the steps at Hope Gap and then transported to WRAS ambulance. Thank you also to Alan Knight OBE of British Divers Marine Life Rescue for his help and assistance.

The Fire Brigade also helped out rescuer Keith deal with a badly injured gull caught up in a television aerial in Eastbourne last week. We have had several calls about birds in netting, and it is the building owners legal responsibility to maintain and deal with any birds which become trapped. We also had a call to Uckfield High Street after a pigeon managed to get trapped under some netting but luckily it was fairly low down so ladders were not needed. Although badly entangled, the pigeon wasn’t suffering from any ligature wounds and was released after observations.

WRAS May 10

WRAS May 10

Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and takes place every year. It aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them, lots of tips to make sure our prickly friends stay safe can be found on the Society’s website

This year efforts are focussed on gardeners – there is so much that gardeners can do to help the hedgehog.

We have set up a list of 10 things we would like gardeners to remember when out in their gardens:

1) Ensuring there is access into the garden for hedgehogs (all that is needed is 5” square gap).

2) Checking areas before strimming or mowing.

3) Move piles of rubbish/brushwood etc to a new site before burning it to ensure no hedgehogs are inside.

4) Ensuring fruit netting or sports netting is kept at a safe height – either lifted off the ground or with boards round the base to stop hedgehogs from becoming entangled.

5) Checking compost heaps before digging with a fork.

6) Stopping or reduce the amount of pesticides and poisons used, try some of the alternatives, like copper tape on flower pots or fine powered ash round flower borders to stop slugs.

7) Cover drains or deep holes around your house and garden to stop hedgehogs getting stuck.

8) Ensuring there is an easy route out of ponds and pools using some form of mesh which they can climb up and out of if necessary.

9) Check sheds and garages and ensure any chemicals or liquids are stored safely and not left in open cat litter trays where hedgehogs and other animals can come into contact with.

10) Support your local wildlife rescue so that if you find a poorly hedgehog you know what to do.

Hedgehog Awareness Week runs from 5th to 11th May 2013 and hedgehog events are being organised all around the country! Sadly due to illness we have not been able to run our event this week. However this week sees us either releasing or moving out of the hospital the last of our over wintered hedgehogs, of which we have had 120 this winter and at up to £150 per hedgehogs we have looked at a bill of over £15,000 this past winter.

As part of Ark Wildlife’s Charity Partner scheme and to highlight National Hedgehog Awareness Week, they are donating £2,500 of Hedgehog food to the hedgehog carers you nominate as heroes. All you need to do is simply ‘Like’ their Facebook Page, then look up the question Vote for your Hedgehog Hero where you can ‘click’ to vote for a hedgehog carer or rescue centre (or add them if they’re not there already) and we’ll send them a FREE 1kg of Ark Hedgehog Food Original for every vote (i.e. 100 votes = 100kg free food). We also have a give-a-way of £250.00 of food and accessories for the winner and runner up with the most nominations. You can find out more at

We need to help look after our wild hedgehogs so please support East Sussex WRAS. Every year we take in and look after over 600 hedgehogs with the aim of treating them and returning them to the wild where they belong.

I would like to apologise to anyone we weren’t able to help last week, our phone lines have been very busy and due to a few people being on holiday or off ill things have been a struggle, but we have still managed to keep on top of over 80% of all calls this week. Due to the long hours and little time off I became ill last week and ended up having to take a day off. So I apologise for any inconvenience caused. I hope that one day someone will have enough funds, or someone leaves us a large gift in their will, or makes a large enough donation that we don’t have to worry so much about funding and can take on a couple more part time employees as well as increase our facilities to make the service more reliable.