During the 50 years that Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital near Sidlesham, has been working, they have always relied on a dedicated team of volunteers to help care for all the sick and injured animals.
However, due to the restrictions imposed as a result of Coronavirus and to safeguard the staff and volunteers, the charity is having to continue to care for hundreds of wildlife patients without their normal network of support.
Due to people spending more time at home (especially in their gardens and out on walks) the hospital has been busier than ever. The usual high volume of baby bird and mammal casualties poured through the door, all needing around the clock care.
Despite being very busy the wildlife hospital is still open for admissions. Staff are working hard to ensure the animals in their care receive the same level of treatment but with significantly fewer hands to help.
“We only have a relatively small team of staff to run the charity, care for patients and maintain the rehabilitation enclosures, so without our dedicated volunteers, it has been tough,” said a spokesman for the charity.
“We didn’t see the drop in patients over the summer that we thought we were going to see. We treated over 2,000 patients instead of the 1,500 we had anticipated, including over 250 water birds, 700 garden bird, 19 fox cubs, 30 birds of prey and 280 hedgehogs.
“As the summer continues it brings with it more seasonal casualties to treat. We hope to safely invite back our normal volume of volunteers very soon to help us care for wildlife patients.”
Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital cares for over 3,500 wildlife casualties each year with the aim to release healthy wildlife back to the wild.
Overall stafg say that people have been ‘very understanding and we have been overwhelmed by the support shown to us’.
“Sadly, despite working hard around the clock under extreme circumstances, the team have suffered abusive messages and calls,” continued the spokesman.
These are testing times for us all so please remember to be understanding and kind to us and each other. Patient welfare is our priority concern, but we have extremely limited resources with regards to staffing and funds. We are only a charity and we do not have the veterinary skills required to treat certain injuries or illnesses.
“Our role is to provide care and rehabilitation to wildlife casualties once they have been pre-assessed by a veterinarian. We do not have enough resources to provide an animal rescue service, so without volunteers, we cannot always transport injured animals to our vet straight away.
“We may advise animal finders to take the casualty directly to their nearest available vet if we feel is in the best interest of the animal. Please always call before you approach or touch a wild animal to help determine the best course of action. If you are planning to bring a patient to us then please call us before you arrive.”
There are a number of questions staff need to ask about the animal and the finders potential contact with Covid-19 before they are able to safely accept a patient into their care.
Many UK species have suffered a decline in numbers over the past few years. This year also sees the first publication of the Red List for UK Mammals, showing that one in four mammals are now classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction’.
“It is always a great pleasure to be able to treat and release some of these most-loved species, which will hopefully contribute to their long term survival in the wild.
“As the number of admissions goes up so does the costs associated with care, equipment and food. It costs £20 each hour, £480 each day, and £350,000 each year to fund our vital wildlife care.
The Coronavirus continues to have a negative impact across the charity with fundraising activities and events being cancelled or postponed.
“The funds we raise attending community talks, school visits, local events and host fundraising activities have been lost this year. To ensure we keep the hospital functioning and the animal care funded we must explore new ways to keep raising vital funds and awareness.
“Please do visit our website to find ways you can help us care for wildlife or take part in our Virtual Open Weekend from August 28.”
For more information, visit: brentlodge.org