Charity advises public not to overfeed sick animals

A WILDLIFE rescue charity is asking people not to overfeed emaciated animals after a young bird died when it was fed until its crop was close to bursting.

A woman found the baby white pigeon on the ground on a farm on the outskirts of Hastings. The bird was just a few weeks old and unable to fly.

She took the creature in and fed it wet bread in a bid to build up its strength.

But the bird was unable to digest the bread, which stuck in its crop.

After several days, the woman called the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) for help.

The bird was taken in by the charity on October 9 and rescuers were faced with the unpleasant task of removing the food from the bird’s crop.

Trevor Weeks MBE, founder and director of East Sussex WRAS, said: “The lady in question wanted to do the right thing by feeding it wet bread. But the crop just expanded.

“If she kept doing it, it would have exploded.”

Sadly, despite the best efforts of the WRAS team, the bird died just four days later.

Trevor said: “Pigeons and doves are still giving birth at this time of year and still have young around.

“I think at this time of year with the cold nights and people shooting at pigeons and doves, people do not think of the consequences of the youngsters which are still being fed.”

He added: “If anyone does find an emaciated animal, I certainly would not rush to put food into it.

“For the first 24 hours we would rehydrate it, as giving it liquid is far more important than food.”

Trevor says milk should be avoided as it can kill young birds.

In October, WRAS traditionally receives a number of calls from members of the public who picked up hedgehogs which are too small to hibernate to try and ‘feed them up’.

Of the 20 hedgehogs passed on to WRAS last year, two thirds of them died.

Anyone who finds an underweight hedgehog is advised to take the animal to a local vet, RSPCA or local animal rescue for help as the animal could be suffering from parasites or other illnesses which require treatment. For advice, or to make a donation to WRAS, log onto www.wildlifeambulance.org.