For some years we were rescuers for Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital but we stopped that seven years ago by which time we had been involved in over a thousand rescues or releases. The releases of animals which had been injured and had recovered and were fit to fend for themselves again was what we hoped for for all the animals we rescued (what I call the 3 R’s – Rescue, Repair, Release). A bit over half of the animals we rescued were released.
When released the animals hardly ever looked back and never said thank you but we were pleased to see them go especially if it was clear that they recognised where they were. On one occasion a badger was returned to the prison from which I had rescued it (no it wasn’t in one of the cells, nor was it found in an escape tunnel, it had been found in a shed in the garden). When I took it back one of the staff showed me the entrance to the badger set. When I opened the cage the badger climbed out, looked at the set entrance we had chosen with distain, turned up its nose and then headed down the hill to another set entrance that we hadn’t realised was there.
As I said, some years ago our focus changed – from one form of ‘wildlife’ to another (granddaughters) but that didn’t stop people from associating us with wildlife rescues. The other day I was out with the dog when a woman I didn’t recognise but who clearly knew a bit about me (perhaps she had been at one of my talks) stopped to talk and asked whether I had been at Les Stocker’s funeral. That threw me for a moment but I said yes we had and then continued on my way.
Then a few days later I noticed a pigeon on our drive. It was clearly not right and I thought it was probably an injured juvenile. Why was it on our drive? Had it been walking up and down the road knocking on doors and asking for someone to take it to a wildlife hospital? So I went out with a towel which I dropped over it and then put it in a pet box and took it over to Tiggywinkles. One of my rules is that if I can catch any animal (other than a hedgehog) or bird then there is something wrong with it. This pigeon had been attacked, probably by a cat.
So even if you stop being a wildlife rescuer people will still talk to you about it and injured wildlife will hunt you down.