Justin King who heads up the Sussex Coast gull and bird voluntary network is at the end of his tether trying to rescue seagulls and pigeons, many of whom have contracted bird flu.
Mr King said the closure of Roger’s Wildlife Rescue in Woodingdean had come at the worst possible time and other wildlife rescue services and volunteers were having to pick up the pieces.
Brighton Council has issued guidance for how to report birds with symptoms of bird flu in public places and how to dispose of them safely if found in your garden. The risk of human beings contracting bird flu is low but the public are advised not to touch infected seagulls.
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue Ambulance Service (WRAS) and Seahaven Wildlife Rescue are also helping sick gulls, although their centres are no longer able to take them in to protect the animals already being cared for there.
Mr King said: “I have rescue requests coming out of my ears, hardly anyone to help and I’m now running a makeshift hospital from my garden. All wildlife centres have turned their backs on gulls, the council (whose offices are still closed since Covid) are not helping.
“Gulls are being dumped everywhere imaginable, including the doorsteps of the seafront offices and DEFRA has done nothing to help other than to provide a phone number that offers nothing.”
Mr King said: “Volunteers are drowning with no support. We are beyond breaking point, with two hospitalizations of staff including myself. Some are losing their jobs.
“Wildlife sites are closed and volunteers have been abandoned to do all of the rescue work. Baby birds are now having to be quarantined by us if they have bird flu and sent to people’s houses and gardens to be raised until august.
“Apart from the council proposing to erect signs on the beaches which provide no helpful support, they have offered nothing.
“It is us who are doing all the work and we have done since May when the last wildlife site in Brighton shut its doors. There has been no mention of the mental impact it is having upon us and we are having to rely upon donations, NOT from the media, NOT from the council, NOT from Defra, but yet again, from the public.
“Now we are in flying ant season and these symptoms are further confusing things for us and being confused with bird flu.
“Furthermore the violence and neglect towards these birds has increased 100 fold. Things are getting worse for all of us.”
Mr King has therefore launched an urgent appeal. He needs volunteers, drivers and people to adopt birds as well as donations of crates, puppy pens, soap powder, cat and dog food and towels. The water and electricity costs are huge from all the washing they have to do.
The campaign has already raised £1,222 on the just giving website but more money is needed to save the seagulls. You can donate here.
Alternatively you can donate using go fund me which has a target of £5,000.