The British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (BWRC) Symposium is celebrating the success of its first virtual event. The annual conference attracted wildlife rehabilitators, veterinary professionals, ecologists and students from around the UK.
Since 1988, the volunteer-run charity has worked to promote the welfare of British wildlife casualties, such as hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, garden birds and birds of prey, whilst in captivity and after release back into the wild.
In 2020, BWRC made the decision to move the symposium online. On November 21st over 100 delegates gathered on Zoom to discuss the latest research and the impact COVID-19 has made upon the sector.
Writtle University College lecturer Terri Amory became Chair of the BWRC in 2014 and has served as a trustee since 2004. She co-organised the symposium with trustee Lucy Bearman-Brown from Hartpury University.
During 2020, Terri studied the 'Effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the work of UK Wildlife rehabilitators - March - May 2020'. During the symposium she presented research on the problems faced by wildlife rehabilitators during the initial period of lockdown. She revealed rehabilitators' reduced charity income and greater numbers of wildlife casualties. Many organisations also struggled to access supplies of consumables such as PPE and veterinary equipment.
Terri was one of several notable speakers to talk at the symposium. International expert in animal welfare, Sabrina Brando, discussed the importance of self-care for animal care professionals. Veterinarian Dr Neil Homer Forbes described the work of the charity Vulture Alliance for the protection of African vultures, including rescue and rehabilitation.
Two Writtle University College Bioveterinary Science graduates were also invited to share their recent undergraduate research with the assembled experts. Elliesha Lee and Abigail O'Malley presented the results of project work with South Essex Wildlife Hospital on cat predation of wildlife and Coccidiosis in hedgehogs.
Terri Amory commented: "Many wildlife rehabilitators struggle to attend conferences because they cannot leave their patients, but one silver lining from the COVID pandemic is that people have become more comfortable engaging with virtual events, so going forward we will be able to blend in-person and virtual events, making them more accessible and convenient for a much wider national audience."
Image: This year, discarded face masks and other PPE have become an increased threat to our wildlife - please take care not to drop masks and cut the straps before discarding them to avoid entanglement.