Merry Christmas 2013
What a year it has been. For me, it's been a year of learning with, work, the rescue and my personal life. Balancing work and home has been a
real struggle with home and friends consistently losing out.
Expansion is never easy. We need more cages and always need more room. The more animals we care for, the more hours you work; wildlife rescue is 24/7. Many of our inmates are nocturnal and that's when we have to observe them. Our orphans need 24/7 feeding and that means no sleep and on top of that, I work. We never have a day off and holidays this year have not been an option.
We have slowly built up a wonderful volunteer base of reliable people and our care has remained stable. We have remained full all year taking only emergencies from vets and the RSPCA for much of the year. Our space limits our patients.
Our small army of people have been raising money at garden centres to buy new specialist cages and to refurbish and adapt some of our release runs. All the money we raise goes directly to the animal as no wages are paid. We are all volunteers. This year we have been supported by many people and received incubators like these (above) from several special friends. These are essential for our work and too those people we are so grateful.
Our animals are wild and in their world, humans are the enemy. They are terrified of us and shock kills. Most of our "inmates" need heat and quiet to get them through the first stages of their rehabilitation and it's their adaption to this that is key. In some cases, wild animals are easy to rear and keep alive but the complex part is keeping them wild and safely returning them. We struggle to multiply this complex procedure and have therefore remained stable in our numbers. A wild animal on release needs to be scared of humans or the process won't work, but that animal also needs to be equipped with foraging and feeding techniques and how to keep safe in the wild.
The release process is long and complex with minimal interaction. Of course, every year we have wildlife that gets too close to you - for whatever reason - and those are the hardest to let go.
One year we had a black bird called Moggy that would actually fly back into the rescue to feed every night. All birds have an amazing sense of homing and even though she was released a few miles away, she returned, stayed and went on to have her own wild crop of youngsters nearby. She would demand food and fly in through the door. We also had two pigeons (Tom and Jerry) that laid eggs when they arrived and all the volunteers enjoyed watching mum and dad take turns to feed and care for the youngsters. It gave us an insight into just how dedicated and caring these community animals were and how complex their communication was.
A few years ago, a fox cub called Alisha had a big impact on us. She came in like every other cub rescued for an unsafe situation. She had actually fallen off a roof with her brother but she was fine, a little shaken and in shock. She was never friendly and could not be held, but was always watching. On one of the few occasions I had to hold her; she managed to get her tooth through my finger. She was released just as any other cub, but that was when the interaction really started. She left her release run - as usual - and was very healthy. I would see her on the cameras until one day when I saw her sat in her old release run, she seemed subdued and her demeanor wasn't good, I checked the cameras and you could see all was not well. It still took a few days to trap her in the runs and we found that her jaw was broken amongst other serious injuries . To me, it was confirmation of something I had seen several times - injured animals return home. Alisha launched Save Me as her personality and character demanded it and she is still the face of that today.
Maybe wildlife return to where they feel safe or do they know you will help; what ever the reason, they do return and that has happened with many different animals. Our trap cameras show wildlife returning in bad weather for food and in many ways, it's comforting to see old friends. This information meant that we needed to step up our release program and monitor our new sites more closely. We have buzzards and kites returning to eat dog food left occasionally for foxes. They have never been fed dog food by us. A male tawny owl calls for food when he's hungry and dances in a tree.
A badger called Billie who got off to an awful start, is having a good life but sparked a badger campaign that has sent us on an incredible journey. Billie still interacts with foxes and her cubs play with the fox cubs. She showed us how wild badgers will accept hand reared badgers and showed us just how strong a bond you can have with the wild. Billie insisted we stop the badger cull and launched our badger campaign at Save Me (www.save-me.org.uk) and Team Badger (www.teambadger.org), an ever growing coalition and the drive behind the vaccination initiative (www.bacvi.co.uk).
My day starts at 5am and rarely finishes before 1am. My first and last thought is the health of the animals we care for. Sometimes we get it wrong and I have to deal with that, but we never stop trying. Our phone rings 24/7 as with all wildlife rescues and this constant ringing has forced us to use an answer phone. The answer phone has almost become constant as we don't have enough staff to dedicate to answering the phone. As soon as an animal is released there will be ten waiting to come in. Unfortunately, we can't care for every injured animal but we try and do our very best.
Funding is a major issue and the balance between fundraising versus available time is a delicate one. If we are fundraising, then we are not caring for the animals and we cannot do both. We haven't solved this yet but have created more space in our offices to try and address this and are looking for specialist and reliable volunteers that can progress this. I wish I had the time to answer the phone personally all the time.
I would like to see in my Christmas stocking from santa:
A reliable volunteer to look after our lovely volunteers
A reliable volunteer to co-ordinate and allocate time to phone answering. Natalie has started this by calling back answer phone messages
A reliable volunteer to update our Facebook and blog pages
A reliable volunteer to co-ordinate and help with fundraising
A reliable volunteer to look at grants
Another 24 hours in the day and a lottery win!
As a good example of the motto “we always get there”; our Christmas cards arrived on the 18th December, we have two different cards. Both will be packaged over the next few weeks and we will be ready early for next year!
We rarely get time to post on Facebook so here goes. As a final photo, as we haven’t mentioned some very cute over-winter guests. A young family of dormice that were under weight and needing support through the winter. This late litter has been with us for a while now and here is a rare glimpse of three very young and very cute dormice. They don't sing carols but I'm sure they would wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year if they could.
Well, as we head in 2014, we hope to improve our facilities and level of equipment and be more human interactive too. We hope to find some new committed volunteers that can make a difference and take us slowly and efficiently into the future.
A massive thank you to those who have supported us through 2013, without you we simply would not be here.
lots of love and thanks Anne xxx
We need your help to carry on our work.
You can support us by donating here: http://www.harperaspreywildliferescue.co.uk/index.php/help-us/donate
You can donate much needed items to us directly by clicking on our wish list on Amazon.
If you use our wish list please remember to add a comment so we can thank you.
For list one click here: http://goo.gl/UxdTIH
For list two click here: http://goo.gl/H55qSr
You can Text Donate simply by texting ‘HAWR00 £5’ to 70070 For other ways to help us please go to our website: http://www.harperaspreywildliferescue.co.uk/index.php/help-us
We really appreciate your support. Without you there would be no us. Thank you, Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue