Water Crisis Threatens Surrey’s Wildlife

Press Release – 21st February 2012

A local charity is warning of “an impending catastrophe for Surrey’s wildlife” this spring and summer.
With a major water shortage already creating huge problems across the South East of England, and the Government saying that a hosepipe ban is likely to be imposed this summer, the Leatherhead-based Wildlife Aid Foundation – which has a veterinary hospital in Randalls Road – said it expects to have to cope with “a massive increase in patient numbers this year” due to the impact of the drought on the health and welfare of Surrey’s wildlife.

Groundwater levels in the South East are at their lowest for over 30 years, and the past 12 months have already caused considerable suffering among wild animals in the region. Surrey has been one of the worst-hit counties, and the situation is expected to get much worse during the coming months as the weather gets warmer.

Simon Cowell MBE, founder and director of the Wildlife Aid Foundation, said that the prolonged dry weather could have “an absolutely devastating effect on wildlife here in Surrey and across the South East.”

He explained: “Last year was bad enough. You may remember the forest fires that occurred throughout the region. We’d had barely a drop of rain for weeks on end, and it wasn’t long before we saw the terrible consequences of that dry weather in the huge numbers of malnourished and dehydrated baby animals that were brought into our Leatherhead wildlife hospital.
“This situation is getting more serious all the time, and weather experts are saying we should expect the worst in 2012. In the circumstances I am not sure how we are going to cope, as we are chronically overstretched even without a large additional influx of patients. We are the only wildlife hospital in the area and one of only a few in the whole of southern England. How will we deal with a region-wide wildlife crisis like this? We will certainly need more help.”

The reason why the lack of rain is such a catastrophe for wildlife is that very young animals don’t know how to find water when it’s scarce. “The very least people can do,” said Simon, “is to keep an eye open for orphaned wildlife and report any incidents to us here at the Wildlife Aid Foundation. As spring approaches, I would also encourage people to put out shallow dishes of water in their gardens, as this would be a huge help for small animals such as hedgehogs.”

The Wildlife Aid Foundation is one of the largest charities of its kind in the UK and its Leatherhead hospital handles some 20,000 wildlife emergencies every year. Animal-lovers can become members of the charity and can volunteer to help at the Foundation’s wildlife hospital and rehabilitation centre.