Motorist repeatedly runs over an owl to kill it

A volunteer from a local wildlife charity was shocked when he went to the scene of a road casualty in East Sussex after a well-meaning motorist repeatedly used his car to run over an injured owl in an attempt to end its suffering.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service

Trevor Weeks delivering a Casualty to WRAS’s Casualty Centre.

Volunteer rescuer Trevor Weeks MBE responded to the emergency call from a passing motorist about a Tawny Owl on The Broyle near Ringmer on Wednesday morning.

Trevor explain what happened:

When I arrived on site I found another passing motorist had parked up with their hazard lights on, I stopped and the gentlemen present explained that he had seen the owl on the ground unable to fly and wanted to end its suffering so not knowing how else to end the birds suffering he placed the bird on the road and repeatedly ran the bird over, killing it.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue deal with hundred of road casualty calls each year and they range from small mammals like hedgehogs to larger animals like swans and badgers too.  Many are fatally injured by vehicles but many are concussed and can be treated.

Although I applaud this gentlemen for stopping rather than just driving on, repeatedly running over a casualty to end its suffering is not a suitable way to end its life and can cause immense suffering.  I diplomatically mentioned about calling us or a vet in future and he was surprised that vets would be interested in dealing with wildlife and also concerned about the costs involved.  The gentlemen was unable to describe the birds injuries and did not know the birds full condition but seemed to assume that if it had been hit by a car it would need putting down.

WRAS is urging motorists not to attempt to kill any casualty unless they have been trained how to do so but to call their local wildlife rescue or emergency veterinary practice for assistance.

Trevor added:

For road casualty deer you can call Sussex Police on 101 and ask for a Deer Warden to attend.  There are four dedicated out of hours emergency veterinary practices which are open at night in East Sussex, Brighton and Hove, plus a few smaller vets practices which provide their own out of hours cover too.  Very rarely does a casualty need putting to sleep on the road side.  We wouldn’t advise motorists to attempt to pick up foxes, badgers, swans and similar wildlife which can be hazardous but to call a rescue organisation for assistance.   We have had a number of occasions when motorists have picked up foxes and badgers which are concussed placed them on the seat of their car only for them to wake up and the drivers has had to pull over and get out of their car quickly and wait for us to arrive and rescue the now lively animal running round inside their vehicle.

East Sussex WRAS receives over 3000 calls every year, all its rescuers are volunteers, and the service is funded by donations. The service has expanded since the charity started 20 years ago and increases the number of casualties it can deal with each year.  The charities biggest source of funding is donations and standing orders.  To find out more about the charity, to make a donation or to find out more advice about dealing with wildlife casualty visit their website at


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