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Scottish SPCA looks back at some unusual rescues of 2020

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Pine marten in bird feeder

The Scottish SPCA has shared some of the unusual rescues of 2020 involving a swan on a roof, a pine marten stuck in a bird feeder and a stranded seal!

We continued to rescue and care for animals throughout the year over the pandemic.

In November, animal rescue officer, Stuart Louch, was called out to the rare rescue of a pine marten. The pine marten had its foot trapped in a bird feeder in a garden in Doune in Perthshire where it regularly came to feed. Pine martens can be quite difficult to handle so it was an effort to safely remove him from the feeder.

Stuart said: “I have a fascination with pine martens so this rescue was really exciting for me.

“The pine marten had potentially been stuck since the previous night so was desperate to get free from the bird feeder. He was very wriggly so it was quite a tricky task to remove him safely.

“Once I’d freed him he latched himself on to my glove so we had a small wrestle! I was then able to release him nearby to the delight of the caller who enjoys watching the pine marten in their garden.”

The expert team at our National Wildlife Rescue Centre was kept busy over lockdown with 6,711 admissions from March to the end of 2020. One admission was a seal who found herself in a tight spot in Eyemouth in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders.

The seal had hauled out of the water in Killiedraught Bay which is surrounded by cliffs and is difficult to access. Inspector Jenny Scott had to leave her van at the top of the cliffs and make her way down to the injured seal pup.

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Seal rescue in Eyemouth

Jenny reflects back on the rescue: “The seal pup had some quite nasty looking injuries on her flippers so she needed veterinary attention at our wildlife hospital.

“I managed to contain the pup but then had to make my way to my van up the steep, muddy cliff path with a 39kg seal!

“Thankfully, a nearby postman had seen my struggle and came to give me a helping hand. He rescued me during my rescue!

“This made the journey much easier and we got the pup safely in the van. She is now recuperating at our wildlife centre and receiving the treatment she needs.

“Thank you so much to the kind postman, without him I would have really struggled to get up the cliff.”

Another unusual rescue was in October involving a swan on a roof at Easterhouse Sports Centre in Glasgow with the help of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Animal rescue officer, Amy Stirton, attended after a caller had monitored the male swan since the previous day to see if he would fly off of his own accord.

Amy said of the rescue: “The swan had made himself at home in the guttering and was harder to spot but thankfully an eagle-eyed member of the public had seen him and called our helpline.

“We suspect he made a move on the wrong female and was chased on to the roof by her partner!

I had to contact the local fire service to assist me as I had no way of accessing the roof as the leisure centre was closed due to lockdown restrictions.

“The swan wasn’t that pleased about being rescued as he seemed to have a nice wee set up with two-feet of water running round the whole building like a moat!

“But once he was safely down from the roof we released him back on Hogganfield pond.

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Fire service assisting with rescue

“We are very grateful to Easterhouse Fire Station who were invaluable to the safe rescue of the swan. Calling on the skills of the fire service to assist with rescues ensures that our team and the public are not put at risk by trying to rescue animals themselves.”

If anyone comes across a wild animal that needs assistance, then they should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.