Releasing the wildlife that comes into our centres isn’t quite as simple as just letting them go. To ensure these animals have the best possible chance of survival there are many things we need to consider.
Timing is everything
The timing of the release of an animal into the wild will not only depend on when the animal is fit and healthy again; it can also depend on the weather, the seasons and even the time of day.
Extreme temperatures can make it difficult for wildlife to re-adjust to their natural environment, and for young birds a windy day can make it difficult for them to fly off into the sunset.
Food needs to be in plentiful supply too. This can mean a different season for each species and, for hand-reared orphans their release needs to be timed to coincide with when they would have been leaving their parents care.
Some animals are nocturnal (only active at night) and so we would only look to release them at dusk. Diurnal animals (active by day) will be released early so they have plenty of daylight in which to adapt to their surroundings.
The right location
Releasing an animal back into its natural habitat is important too.
Many of the animals who come into our care are released back where they are found as quickly as possible as they may be holding territory in the area or be part of a family group. They will also know the best spots to forage for food.
For the other animals, mostly orphans, we need to find release sites for them. These sites need to be carefully chosen. For instance, there are very few animals who live their lives in complete solitude so being able to find a mate, a pack, a flock, or a gaggle can be essential to their chances of survival. There also needs to be plenty of food, water and suitable nest or den sites.
Lastly we need to consider the dangers posed by us, people. Roads in particular can cause problems for an animal who is still trying to get their bearings and work out the boundaries of their territory, new or old.
We are always in need of release sites for different wild animals. If you think you can help, please let us know by visiting My RSPCA.
To make sure we can give these animals the best possible chance of survival we track them after release. Read more about the post-release monitoring of wildlife.