Sunday, 3 April 2016

Why springtime spells disaster for Britain's wild animals

As the nation looks forward to the start of spring, the UK's animal rescue centres prepare for orphan season - when they will be inundated with hundreds of parentless baby animals

By Nick Harding
6:00AM BST 27 Mar 2016

For the nation’s children, this weekend will be filled with Easter eggs, daffodils and daisies, and the start of British Summer Time on Sunday heralds months of lighter nights and longer playtimes in the park after school. Winter has receded and from here on in, us homo sapiens have it easy.

For the offspring of the nation’s wild animals however, the struggle is only just beginning. Adults are whelping their young into thickets and hedgerows across the countryside - and springtime carnage is ensuing. Animal rescue and rehabilitation centres do not call this time of year spring. They call it orphan season.

Baby hedgehogs eviscerated by garden strimmers, nests of chicks dislodged from branches by pruning poles, baby deer suckling at the teats of their roadkill mothers - these are all-too-common occurrences at this time of year, with adult animals coming to grief as they leave their newborns in search of food. Thousands of parents die on the roads. Others abandon their young after overly-hasty intervention by man. Cats take their fair share too.

The battle to save bereft youngsters has already commenced at the Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF), one if the UK’s busiest wild animal rescue and rehabilitation centres, based in Surrey. Over the following months, volunteers there will conduct a heroic round-the-clock Nightingale-esque vigil, nursing every conceivable species of British wildlife to adulthood and eventual release. Baby owls, buzzards, fawns and rabbits will arrive in various states of injury, exposure and abandonment.

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