Wildlife rescue volunteers were called to an unusual incident last week (Friday, March 25) after two male fallow deer got their antlers tied together by electric rope.
Laura Gage, Penny Walker, Laura Walker and Tracy Gage were out walking their dogs in fields off Bakers Lane, in Dallington, when they spotted the deer.
Laura Gage said: “We were all surprised to see the deer and at first we were not quite sure what they were doing, but as we got closer, it was clear their antlers were stuck together and could not get free.
“One of the deer was very stressed and being pulled around by the other deer. It was quite distressing and horrible to see. “We decided to back off so not to stress the deer any further. We contacted Heathfield Vets who recommend we call East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) for help. We met them up on the main road by the Swan Pub and directed them to the site.”
The East Sussex WRAS sent two ambulances and four rescues to the scene.
Trevor Weeks MBE, founder and operations director of East Sussex WRAS, said: “When we first arrived, one of the deer was on the ground while the other was constantly pulling at the antlers trying to get free.
“At first, we thought the deer on the ground was dead but all of a sudden it jumped up and the two started running in different directions pulling against each other.”
Rescuer Kathy Martyn from Uckfield and Chris Riddington from Eastbourne used a walk towards net to gain control of the deer before Trevor threw a blanket over the deer’s head and pinned them to the floor.
“It’s hard enough trying to gain control of one deer, so trying to do so with two is so much harder and you really have to choose your moment,” said rescue manager Chris Riddington.
The deer were exhausted so rescuers knew they had to be as quick as possible to avoid the deer having a heart attack.
Chris added: “It took us just under 10 minutes to cut the electric rope wrapped round the antlers free, although it seemed like a lot longer at the time. Trevor and Kathy concentrated on controlling a deer each while rescuer Keith Reed and I cut away at the electric rope. When it is so tightly wrapped round the antlers, it can be very difficult to remove.”
Once the deer were separated from each other, rescuers Chris and Keith backed off leaving Trevor and Kathy to release the deer in a carefully controlled manner to avoid injury.
“We were not too surprised when the deer did not get up straight away. They were both exhausted and needed a bit of encouragement but they were soon jumping to their feet and it was really nice to see them run off into the setting sun,” said Trevor.
Laura Gage added: “We are really grateful to WRAS for coming out so quickly. We were worried about how they were going to catch the deer and really pleased when they managed to release both. WRAS do such fantastic work.”
Rescuers believe one of the deer may have previously been entangled in the rope and been cut free by someone who did not remove all the rope from the antlers before release. While fighting, the second deer became caught in the rope attached to the first deer.
“It is really important that entangled deer are secured and anything attached to their antlers is completely removed to prevent them being entangled again, where they might not be so lucky and could die a long slow death. If it wasn’t for these dog walkers calling WRAS, these deer may well have died a horrible slow death,” said Trevor.
WRAS has only had two other cases of two deer attached to each other over the last 30 years. They have always been attached by discarded baler twine rather than thin electric rope, making this slightly more unusual, and the strands of metal in the rope made the rescuers work harder.
East Sussex WRAS is an award-winning community charity and relies on donations to carry out its work. The walk-towards net had to be cut on this rescue to ensure a quick release. Anyone wanting to make a donation can visit www.wildlifeambulance.org or call 01825 873003.
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