Trends in Admissions and Outcomes at a British Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre over a Ten-Year Period (2012–2022)

Elizabeth Mullineaux, Chris Pawson

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Abstract

Millions of animals pass through wildlife rehabilitation centres (WRCs) globally each year, some dying in captivity, others euthanised, and some released into the wild. Those caring for these animals are generally well-intentioned, but skills, knowledge, and resources may be limited, potentially compromising animal welfare. WRC databases provide an opportunity to provide an evidence base for treatment and conservation efforts. 42,841 records of animals admitted over a
10-year period to a British WRC were analysed. More birds (69.16%) were admitted than mammals (30.48%) and reptiles and amphibians (0.36%). Most admissions were in the summer (48.8%) and spring (26.0%) months. A total of 9 of the 196 species seen made up 57% of admissions, and hedgehogs were the most common species admitted (14% of all admissions and 20% of mammals).
Juvenile animals (35.5%) were admitted more frequently than ‘orphans’ (26.0%) or adults (26.4%). ‘Orphaned’ was also the predominant reason for admission (28.3%), followed by ‘injured’ (25.5%). 42.6% of animals were eventually released back to the wild, 19.2% died in captivity, and 37.2% were euthanised; 1% of outcomes were unknown. The prognosis was better for orphaned animals than
for those admitted because of injury. Unexpected natural deaths in captivity were found to decline over the period of study, consistent with improved early triage. These findings can be used to focus veterinary and WRC training and seasonal resources on the species and case types most likely to be successfully rehabilitated and released. The findings also have the potential to contribute to our understanding of anthropogenic impacts, historical and regional variations in ecosystem health, and resultant implications for animal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86
JournalAnimals
Volume14
Issue number1
Early online date26 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • hedgehog
  • rescue
  • rehabilitation
  • triage
  • wildlife
  • welfare

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