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Scottish SPCA issues stark warning to people trying to care for wild animals


By Kirsty Brown

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The Scottish SPCA has issued a stark warning that members of the public are inadvertently putting injured wildlife at risk by attempting to treat them on their own.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity has had reports of untrained people taking home and trying to care for a range of wildlife including foxes, fawns and a variety of birds.

In the worst cases, wild animals have had to be put to sleep because they did not get proper treatment and attention sooner.

The Society launched its #WildlifeWise campaign in April to educate the public on when they should and should not contact them about wildlife.

One incident in Glasgow involved someone taking a fawn home and keeping it overnight.

The person called the Society’s animal helpline but did not heed the advice to return the fawn to where they found it.

The doe would most likely have been foraging or searching for a safe resting site.

The young deer was fed cow’s milk which could cause gut upset which can result in more serious, life-threatening issues.

Another case involving a fawn being taken home and wrapped up in dog blankets.

When the Society’s animal rescue officer arrived it was having seizures due to the amount of stress it was caused.

Be #WildlifeWise. Picture courtesy of Scottish SPCA
Be #WildlifeWise. Picture courtesy of Scottish SPCA

In other instances, people have been taking home cubs and adult foxes and attempting to rear them.

One person kept a young fox in a shed for three months until it was too much to cope with and then contacted the helpline, but by then it was not safe for the fox to be released back to the wild.

The Scottish SPCA’s chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “By no means do we think people do this maliciously or with intent to harm these animals but unfortunately by trying to care for them they are doing more harm than good.

“People need to remember that these are wild animals and any interaction with humans is incredibly stressful for them.

"Fawns and deer in particular suffer from extreme stress and can pass away from shock.

“Often people will feed the animals the incorrect diet and this will lead to intestinal problems and can lead to the animal passing away.

“We have experienced many incidents of birds being taken home by members of the public.

"Some people have tried to tape up wings resulting in a maggot infestation, others have tried to feed birds paracetamol.

"Sadly, in many of these circumstances the animal needs to be put to sleep as it’s injuries have not been correctly treated from the outset.

“A hedgehog was brought to us with serious injuries to its face after being caught by a garden strimmer.

"The person kept it for two or three weeks and tried to give it antibiotics prescribed from the vet.

"Sadly, when it arrived in to our care it had to be put to sleep.

“Through good intentions people are causing these animals unnecessary suffering and unfortunately, in many cases, death.

“Wild animals do not have the centuries of domestication that companion animals do.

"Instinctually, wild animals see humans as a threat and any interaction will cause them a great deal of distress.

“We would ask that the public do not try and take matters in to their own hands. In the first instance people should check our website for advice and if they’d still like to speak to someone, call our animal helpline for information.

“Our animal rescue officers and team at our National Wildlife Rescue Centre are experts in treating and rehabilitating wild animals.

"We would urge everyone to leave the care of wild creatures to us to give them the best possible chance of recovery.”

Be #WildlifeWise. Picture courtesy of Scottish SPCA
Be #WildlifeWise. Picture courtesy of Scottish SPCA

You can visit www.scottishspca.org/wildlifewise for more information on the #WildlifeWise campaign.

You can reach the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.



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