The Scottish SPCA was founded in 1839 to prevent
cruelty to animals and to promote kindness and humanity in their treatment.
As an active partner in PAW, the Partnership for Action Against
Wildlife Crime, the Inspectorate is working with all the police forces in Scotland, the
Ministry of Defence Police, the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Executive
in order to highlight and combat wildlife crime. Our highly trained Inspectors investigate
horrific cases involving the illegal use of traps, snares and poisons. Many of the victims
suffer protracted and painful deaths, but for those that survive, or for the many wildlife
casualties, the Societys specialist wildlife Centre at Middlebank in Dunfermline is
where Society staff work to rehabilitate animals to return them to the wild.
Middlebank is the Scottish SPCA's Wildlife Centre. It aims to
rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife and return them to their natural habitat as soon as
possible. It is not a sanctuary, and does not keep any animal for display purposes. It
deals with all British Wildlife except Cetaceans. The Centre treats over 2,000 wild
animals every year. Injured birds of prey, oiled sea birds, injured swans, abandoned seal
pups, and underweight hedgehogs, are just some of the patients successfully
rehabilitated by the highly trained team.
The story of the Scottish SPCA Middlebank Wildlife Centre began in
1986, when the Centre first opened to deal with the ever-increasing numbers of seabirds
suffering from the effects of oil pollution. From that simple beginning, the Centre has
grown and now incorporates a Seal Treatment Unit, wild bird aviaries, wildfowl ponds and
an exciting education facility the Discovery Room.
The Centre is run by a small team of dedicated staff backed up by an
army of volunteers. Both staff and volunteers are highly trained in the handling,
treatment and rehabilitation of wildlife.
The Oiled Bird Cleaning Centre at Middlebank is the only one of its
kind in Scotland and currently deals with birds from all over Scotland, Northern Ireland
and northern parts of England. Large numbers of birds from the Braer oil
spillage in Shetland, brought the Centre a well deserved international reputation and more
recently, birds from the Sea Empress spillage at Milford Haven were flown up
by helicopter for treatment. Cleaning an oiled bird is no easy task; it can take two
people up to 2 hours to remove every trace of oil from a small bird and anything up to 5
hours to clean a large bird such as a swan.
Seals and seal pups in need of help, are brought to the Seal Treatment
Unit at Middlebank. Many patients arrive at the Centre due to the good but
misguided intentions of the general public. Seal pups are often seen lying on the beach
and it is easy to assume that they have been abandoned. In the majority of cases their
mother is simply feeding out at sea. If the pups are touched they will carry human scent
and will not be accepted if they are returned to their mothers. However, many of the pups
currently being cared for by our staff were very thin when they were found and their
mother may have been killed at sea. If there is any doubt, we would ask the public to
telephone our Inspectorate Central Control on 0131-339 0111- a phone call could save a
life. When a pup needs help, they will spend around 3 months being hand reared by the
Middlebank team. Once there, they are fed on a special diet until they are old enough or
fit enough to eat small fish. When they achieve a target weight they are released back
into the wild.
Middlebank has cared for some unusual animals in the recent past
a pelican found outside a pub in Aberdeen, an off-course gyr falcon and a