Rehabilitation of Wildlife
The goal of the Centre is the ‘Successful Rehabilitation of British Wildlife’.
‘Rehabilitation’ encompasses the whole process of identifying a wildlife casualty through to monitoring their release from care.
Observation is a key part of our work and must be done before any animal or bird is handled. Wildlife casualties find human contact stressful as we are seen as potential predators and part of their self-preservation defence mechanism is often to “play dead”. We need to observe with the minimum amount of disturbance, so that the animal behaves as naturally as possible.
Assessment involves a range of factors. As well as identifying injuries and symptoms of ill health, the possible causes, circumstances, age and geographic location of the casualty may be instrumental to their treatment and eventual release. For example an adult could have an established territory which it is familiar with and will need to return there as soon as possible to avoid confrontation and find familiar foraging areas.
Treatment and care plans are drawn up for each individual by one of the Centre vets. The casualty is placed in an appropriate section of our facilities according to its species and needs.
As our wildlife patients recover they move from the high levels of care in the hospital section through to a cooler intermediate environment and finally to our aviaries, and specialised enclosures in our outside grounds.
Observation, assessment and treatment continue throughout the animal’s stay, with the aim of returning it to the wild as soon as possible. ‘As soon as possible’ varies from a few days to a number of months as all patients need to regain their strength and fitness sufficiently to fend for themselves in the wild.
Release is our ultimate aim. We take care to release wildlife when conditions are likely to be best for them. For example hand reared orphans are released at the time when they would normally be leaving the parental territory.
Other considerations are:
- Natural habitat
- Food supply
- Dangers – natural and manmade (e.g. roads)
- Weather – very cold or wet conditions can be difficult to adjust to
- Natural behaviour – hedgehogs and bats are released at dusk when they would normally be waking up
Post – Release Monitoring gives vital information on the success of wildlife rehabilitation. We ring all birds with a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring which has a unique ID number on it. If a bird is seen or found information can be sent via the BTO to us. We tag and microchip all the seals we release. The tags are bright orange and also carry a unique ID number through which information can be relayed back to us. When funding is available we run specialised post-release programmes to monitor the success of particular species.