The aim is to return things to the wild. I have been fortunate to work closely with the Scottish SPCA where their experts provide advice and help when necessary. Wildlife rehabilitation is a continual learning process – there are always new ways to improve what we do, to give a particular creature the best chance possible.
Tawny owls are frequent patients. They are a species that has learned to live in close proximity to man, and due to this often come to grief. They get stuck in chimneys and woodburning stovepipes during the nesting season, and are sometimes hit by cars, or get entangled in netting. One young owl went through nearly every process in a pea-canning factory but survived to make a full recovery. Another travelled from Norwich to Edinburgh embedded in the front grill of a large lorry. It too miraculously got over this ordeal.
Many raptors are brought in, and red squirrels, hedgehogs, ducklings and other fledgelings during the breeding season add to a long list. Though I have hand-reared several litters of red squirrels, I recently reared the youngest I had ever received – a trio aged approximately 3/4 days old. Feeding them every couple of hours for the first few weeks meant little sleep. However, releasing them in our garden three months later was a moment I will always cherish.
Domestic cats and dogs cause numerous problems for wildlife – fitting cats with bells with an elasticated collar, can really help lessen bird and squirrel casualties.
Sadly we see numerous injuries, and indeed deaths caused by both dogs and cats.
Our wildlife is increasingly up against it, and most, if not all, associated problems caused by man either directly or indirectly. By the time some casualties are found, they may be too weak or severely injured and have to be put to sleep. However, the successes make up for the disappointments, and there can be no more significant moment than seeing a wild animal or bird returning to its natural environment.