Our Wildlife Casualty Volunteers save the day!

Hedgehog contained in a box, photo by WCV Justin Disdale

Our Wildlife Casualty Volunteers (WCVs) are invaluable in supporting our inspectors on the front line of our work. They collect sick, injured or orphaned birds and small mammals, and transport them to our wildlife centres, external wildlife rehabilitators or appropriate veterinary establishments.

We’re currently recruiting for more volunteers in the North West and South West of England (more details on that at the end of this post). Two of our current WCVs have kindly offered to give potential new recruits a picture of what to expect in the role. We’ll let Justin Disdale and Candy Nathan take it from here!

The opportunity to get close to animals you rarely see

Justin tells us:

I’ve always loved wildlife after having an amazing primary school teacher, Mr Miles, who used nature and wildlife as the starting point for most of his subjects from maths to art. This sparked my interest, and this volunteer role has given me the opportunity to get close to animals you rarely see close up if at all.

It’s rewarding both knowing that you’re helping sick and injured animals, and also helping out the Collection Officers and Inspectors of the RSPCA who are so stretched in their work.

The knowledge that you gain in the relatively short time of the training session is amazing. Also meeting like minded volunteers as well as RSPCA staff makes you feel that you’re really getting involved with a group of amazing people.

Some days you don’t get a call however you just get on with your normal day. I must admit if I am out and about I always carry my uniform and equipment in the back of my car just in case the phone rings.

Other days I’ve had a completely full day transporting poorly wildlife from vets and other animal shelters to the RSPCA Wildlife Centre at East Winch. I put myself forward to be on call everyday that I have a day off from my full time job, so I guess I must enjoy it.

Catching crows in the dark

Hedgehog contained in a box, photo by WCV Justin DisdaleWe also asked Justin to tell us about some of his most memorable times whilst volunteering:

Most touching – being made to truly feel part of a fantastic organisation.

Funniest – standing in the rain with two fellow volunteers and a member of the Wildlife Centre team catching swans to weigh, trust me it was hilarious.

Weirdest experience – probably one of my first call outs to pick up an injured crow which was, as with any animal we collect, classed as contained [WCVs don’t catch animals, they’re asked to collect animals who have been contained in a safe space].

The elderly chap who had called the RSPCA guided me to his garden shed and opened the shed door announcing, ‘she be in there’. I had to find the crow, obviously black, in the interior of the dark shed before catching it and containing it in a cardboard box.

Justin’s top tip for new recruits is to:

Just do it, it’s so rewarding on so many levels…and carry a torch just in case you get called out to a crow in a shed.

A touching experience

Candy Nathan, who also works as a Wildlife Casualty Volunteer, told us:

I wanted to do something useful and practical for the RSPCA. A typical call out would be to a pigeon with a damaged wing. A more enjoyable task is releasing recovered animals to their natural habitat.

Handling and weighing hedgehogs and swans on the training day was great fun. It’s touching to see the care and time given by so many volunteers.

Get involved

Buzzard contained in a box, photo by WCV Tiffany Brinscombe

If you’re interested in playing a vital part in our rescue work, and gaining hands-on experience helping wildlife, then you’ll be pleased to learn that we’re currently recruiting.

Right now we’re taking applications for Wildlife Casualty Volunteers (WCVs) and Wildlife Driver Volunteers (WDVs).

You’ll need to be over 18 years old, able to drive and have access to your own transport, and you’ll be expected to volunteer for a minimum of eight hours a week (one working day). In return we’ll offer you training (watch a short video about our training days), support, and hopefully some incredible experiences!

If you live in any of the above areas, you can apply online now.

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