In the opinion of East Sussex WRAS (Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service) there is a huge wildlife crisis in East Sussex due to a combination of factors. Some RSPCA and rescue centres have closed and others are running a much reduced service. Coupled with this is the growth of avian flu which is killing large numbers of gulls along the South coast.
In Sussex, many gulls have been brought to various locations sadly deceased. The areas mainly affected are Brighton & Hove but calls are now being received about gulls with the same symptoms in Eastbourne & Seaford. The symptoms include lethargy, gurgling, coughing, vomiting and the inability to stand up and whilst some of these symptoms vary, they are causing quick mortality in gulls and could be related to avian influenza.
DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) are currently investigating but they urge us not to handle deceased gulls but to report the birds to them.
Due to the high risk of infection, WRAS are currently unable to admit gulls for treatment, in order to protect the birds currently in care but they are triaging on a case-by-case basis. They advise members of the public to take sick gulls (if they are able to safely) to their nearest veterinary practice who see wildlife free of charge or to contact the RSPCA.
A spokesman for WRAS commented: “We are extremely sad that this is happening across Sussex: we are all avid gull lovers and this is devastating to their population.
“We are still reuniting as many chicks as we can with their parents, but please bear in mind we are a small charity with limited volunteers who often are working around full time jobs and family commitments.
“We aim to help as many of you as we can, but please, when calling us, be kind. We understand the frustration, more than anyone, with this situation but our volunteers have been on the receiving end of verbal abuse. We thank you for your patience during this trying time! We are still here to give advice.”
WRAS have asked that if you come across birds locally with the symptoms described above please report your findings using the contacts below.
DEFRA: 03459 33 55 77 RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
[Editors note: there are 2 outbreaks among domestic flocks (chickens) as well, in Bexhill and Guestling, with DEFRA imposed exclusion zones imposed around each outbreak.]
Image Credits: Nick Forman .