Wildlife Rescue Cork has been caring for and rehabilitating animals like this cormorant in Cork since 2017.

Leave it to the experts

Finding an injured or orphaned animal might tempt many of us to try to nurture it back to health ourselves, however, a local volunteer says the best thing you can do is bring the patient to the experts immediately.

Julie Cronin founded Wildlife Rescue Cork (WRC) in 2017, an animal welfare charity that rescues and rehabilitates animals with the purpose of releasing them back into the wild.

Currently, WRC is treating hedgehogs, ducks, a kestrel, a coot, pigeons, bats and foxes, all of whom are being cared for in the charity’s purpose-built hospital.

The team at WRC are kept busy all year round and in the summer months they can see as many as 20 people a day who need help with an injured animal. Speaking to the Cork Independent, Julie says the charity has seen a marked increase in patients admitted to the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic due to so many people spending more time in their gardens and local neighbourhoods.

“Many people used the time stuck at home to be productive, finally getting around to clearing their house and redoing their gardens. Unfortunately, due to this, a huge amount of wildlife was displaced, injured or orphaned as sheds and decking were pulled up.

“Recently we had a hedgehog where the owner had pulled up the old decking to replace it and found a mother and babies under there. Due to the stress on the mother, she abandoned the hoglets when she came into care and I had to hand rear them, feeding them every three hours through the night,” says Julie.

A lot of animal injury and displacement is caused by human activity such as road collisions, poisoning, strimming, and hedge cutting.

Julie says many animals are brought to her and her team in a very weak condition by people with the best intentions who have tried to care for the animal themselves.

“Sadly, we do see animals that have been watched for a few days, or the finders have tried to care for the animal themselves before asking advice. They are so weak when admitted, they often don’t make it.

“People who love animals are, in my opinion, an exceptional type of person. People mean well and want to help but it is advised to get advice from someone experienced. For example, if you see a hedgehog lying in the open in the daytime, they need help immediately,” explains Julie.

The team at WRC operates entirely on a volunteer basis, working long and arduous hours to help the animals they encounter. Julie says there are many ups and downs but that meeting compassionate people and seeing the animals regain their health and independence makes it all worthwhile.

“Getting the animal to the WRC hospital, warmed up and given fluids or food, bandaging their wing or leg, getting them medication or x-rays from the vets and then settled into their temporary home, knowing for now they are safe, and everything has been done for them.

“Strangely, one of the best parts of my job is when an animal that has been so unwell, then suddenly has enough strength to peck me or slap me with a wing. This shows me we are well on the mend. Wildlife should always be wild and be trying to get away from you,” says Julie.

WRC is entirely funded by public donations but, like many charities over the last year and a half, has been unable to carry out fundraising events due to the pandemic.

The charity is now looking to encourage local Cork businesses to donate prizes such as vouchers which will then be raffled off.

The funds raised will go directly towards suitable food, bedding, enclosure maintenance and veterinary fees for the animals.

“Corkonians are renowned for helping their own. I know Cork businesses have been through a difficult few months but if anyone is in a position to donate a voucher towards this fundraiser I would be delighted for the help,” says Julie.

WRC can be contacted via email, Facebook or Instagram. The charity’s email address is wildliferescuecork@hotmail.com.

In the meantime, Julie encourages anyone who comes across an animal in need of assistance to immediately contact a local rehabilitator or veterinary practice for advice.

“Wildlife needing help includes animals on the roadside, hedgehogs lying out in the open in daytime, animals who are listless and unable to flee, and any animal who has an obvious injury.

“An exception is during the summer when birds leave the nest. They are called fledglings, and they spend a few days on the ground learning to fly. The parents feed them on the ground and unless they are on a road or a cat has brought them home, please leave them alone,” concluded Julie.