One of the busiest wildlife rescues in South Cumbria has spoken out about how wildlife rescue, as a whole, is in crisis.

Elisabeth Ashleigh, of Bardsea Bird Sanctuary, regularly takes in injured and sick birds from all over the region.

The summer time is a particularly busy time of year for the rescue with the arrival of many baby gulls, crows, jackdaws and other wild birds.

Elisabeth and her 'Tweet Fleet' of volunteers have also had to deal with a spate of shootings that began at the beginning of the year. 

The added pressure on the bird sanctuary has prompted Elisabeth to speak out about the support that wildlife rescues get from the public. 

(Image: Bardsea Bird Sanctuary) "Wildlife rescue is in crisis," said Elisabeth. "Most people love to see, hear and feed the birdies and spot wildlife in the countryside, but very few are interested in saving it.

"Many rescues have closed or are full because either they think they can rely on funding or have become inundated with too many rescues.

"Some rescuers have gone under because they can't stand the pressure of what is expected of them -  and even get abuse in some cases, it's awful."

Elisabeth has stressed the support needed isn't always financial - although this does always help.

She says what her particular sanctuary needs is hands on help, volunteers and simple items.

(Image: Bardsea Bird Sanctuary) She said: "Sometimes, small things like putting an injured bird in a box or carrier and taking them to the vets is all it takes.

"A lot of people think we're paid but we're not, we're volunteers.

"With birds, there's definitely a case of 'bird phobia' in many rescues.

"Few people are interested in doing hands on work with animals, particularly birds, but are jolly quick to pass on one they've found.

"People are happy to go near an injured cat or a dog, but you get great big men who are scared to pick up a bird and it's us, the Tweet Fleet, that has to do."

(Image: Bardsea Bird Sanctuary) A lot of the rescues that Bardsea Bird Sanctuary perform can often be time consuming, at inconvenient times and awkward to action.

They often involve the procurement of ladders, wading into waters and gaining the trust of the animals.

This isn't to mention the care and rehabilitation involved afterwards.

Elisabeth said: "A lot of folk will volunteer for beach cleaning, litter picking and looking after planters, which is good- these are good-hearted people, but not many will volunteer for what we do .

"People also don't realise that many human charities use donations to experiment on animals, and yet you'll find animal lovers working wageless in charity shops to generate funds.

"You can pay a lot of money to visit a zoo or do yoga with an alpaca but who wants to volunteer doing rescue work?

"We are struggling at the moment so we really needs hands on help.

"We very rarely ask for money - it doesn't take that much to run our rescue - but things like cat food for the gulls or chicken corn really helps.

"People who will rear baby gulls in their back garden would really help. It only takes a few weeks and the little fluff balls are ready to go."

"There are plenty of ways people can help but wildlife rescues need support all time and government funding, ideally would help."

To find out more about helping the 'Tweet Fleet' please visit the Bardsea Bird Sanctuary Facebook page.