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Wildlife hit hard by Somerset Levels flooding

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

One innocent victim of the waterlogged land, a tawny owl with a broken wing, is treated at Secret World Animal Rescue, in Somerset

One innocent victim of the waterlogged land, a tawny owl with a broken wing, is treated at Secret World Animal Rescue, in Somerset. Picture: Richard Austin

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When huge sheets of water cover large areas of land it is not only the humans who feel the pain – this starving owl ended up in an animal rescue centre this week after being forced off the flooded Somerset Levels.

In the past three days the Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre – which is located on the Somerset flatlands – has taken in seven tawny owls, one barn owl and a buzzard, all either emaciated, too weak to fly or injured.

Sara Cowen, the centre’s animal care manager, said the charity would not normally expect to see such numbers of these particular birds in a three-month period, let alone three days.

She and her team are blaming the floods.

“Their natural habitat on the Levels is grassland and it is a really good hunting ground for them,” she said.

“Unfortunately, because of the horrendous rain we had during the past few weeks, the Levels are flooded and these birds are not able to hunt there.

“So what we think is happening is that birds like the owls are moving away from the flooded places to other areas – but it’s not the habitat they are used to and they are coming in emaciated and very weak.”

Some of the birds have suffered injuries because they’ve braved perilous locations like the M5 motorway to feed off road-kill.

“Normally the owls hunt at night and stay out of harm’s way,” said Ms Cowen. “Now they are forced to find food in hazardous places they’re not used to.

“Most of them are in supportive care; warmth, rest and feeding them up on really high-calorie diets and they should be fine.”

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