Please note that many of these articles were originally written for the old GB Wildlife site in between 2008 – 2010 and organisations may have changed since then.
Wildlife Blogs – Vale Wildlife Rescue : The story so far…
Twenty-four years ago I was living in a perfectly ordinary semi-detached house in a pretty village near Evesham in Worcestershire. This is where and when Vale Wildlife was ‘born’, although I didn’t intentionally set out to set up a wildlife hospital.
I had an interest in all animals and birds of prey in particular. I owned a captive bred kestrel and buzzard which I took much pleasure in spending my spare time flying in the local fields.
Because people locally knew of my birds, a local vet one day asked me if I would look after an injured tawny owl as he didn’t have the facilities to keep it. As I had spare aviaries I agreed.
Before this point I had never really given injured wildlife a thought, but the tawny owl made me wonder just how many wildlife casualties were out there, and what happened to them. The answers were that there are millions of birds and mammals killed and injured every year in the UK and, at that time, there were very few places to cater for them, so I thought that maybe I could do my bit to help a few.
Leaping forward by 24 years to today, and we now have a purpose-built wildlife hospital complete with veterinary and intensive care facilities, we are on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and the charity employs 12 people.
I am extremely proud of everyone who has helped to achieve this and it has been far from easy. It cost me my marriage and my house, we have been so short of funds on several occasions that we have almost closed down, we have been broken into several times and supposed friends have tried to take over using very underhand methods.
Despite this, when we are able to release an animal back into the wild which had arrived with horrific injuries & would undoubtedly have died if we had not helped, it really does make all the heartache worthwhile. There is nothing better than the feeling you get when you see that bird or mammal back in its natural environment.
The Costs of Running Vale Wildlife
Vale Wildlife cares for about 5000 animals a year which amounts to costs of around £20,000 per month and it is an on going battle to raise enough funds to remain open. There are the costs associated with any building, the heating bills, electric etc. On top of these we need to provide food for a vast array of different species. The foods found in our hospital kitchen include: mealworms, day old chicks (dead of course!), tinned pet food (we use between 500 – 1,000 tins per week, depending on the time of year), maggots, fruit and veg, fish, insects, corn, hay, several types of milk replacer, vitamin and mineral supplements and just about every type of bird seed available. Then of course there is the medication needed. New drugs are becoming available all the time, many of which have never been tried on wild animals and birds. The costs involved in some of the treatments that we use are extremely high, but we will use whichever form of treatment is best for the casualty, regardless of cost.
Although we work tirelessly to ensure we have enough funds to remain open we manage to have some fun along the way. At the moment two of our (very brave) volunteers are preparing for an Arctic challenge when they will drive a team of huskeys 250 km across the frozen wastelands of Norway into Sweden to raise funds for us!! We also raise cash through various other, more conventional, means such as membership, donations and car boot sales but we often struggle to keep going financially.
Despite the hard work we won’t stop planning for better facilities to care for the animals and ways to provide education facilities for schools and colleges as well as the general public.
We are now one of the largest and most well known wildlife hospitals in the country and we have many hopes and dreams for the future. With support from the public along with our skilled and dedicated team of staff and volunteers I am confident we will achieve these dreams.
I have many tales to tell from the last 24 years, some happy, some very sad but we have learnt from all of them and we are continuing to learn every day.
© Caroline Gould
VWR founder and Manager
To find out more information about VWR or to make a donation please go to the Vale Wildlife Rescue