Limerick woman goes wild with her new charity status
A LIMERICK woman with an interest in bats this week celebrates, along with the volunteers helping her, being granted charity status for the rescue service they provide.
Susan Kerwin of Bruree rescues the furry flying creatures when they’ve experienced the worst of everything, whether it’s being attacked by a cat or being trapped in a building.
Susan has been saving wild animals for 15 years and lately has focused on bats. It now has about thirty volunteers who travel to recover injured animals in as large a catchment area as possible.
Susan opened her first ‘bat hospital’ in the garden of her Bruree home two years ago. However, until this month, the full cost of feeding her bats, their veterinary care, and keeping the injured warm and toasty was her responsibility, along with any gifts she received.
Now, with her group, Bat Rehabilitation Ireland, having been granted official charity status, she is free to accept donations and run fundraising campaigns.
She told the Limerick Post it’s a “fantastic recognition of what we do and our dedication to it”.
“We are all really delighted with this news.”
The mother-of-two started loving the little creatures when she was being treated for cancer.
A side effect of her treatment was insomnia, so she had a cup of tea in her dark garden and watched the bats fly.
Her interest in the creatures grew and now she is a licensed bat rehabilitator with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland.
“They helped me so much in difficult times. I always say that I was given a second chance. I also want to give injured bats a second chance,” she told the Limerick Post.
Susan currently has 34 bats in her care, as well as barn owls, peregrine falcons and buzzards. She expects many more animals over the coming winter months.
“There’s nothing to worry about bats – except what might happen if they weren’t there,” says Susan, pointing out that the little critters are a very important link in the food chain, with some Irish species eating their body weight in insects. each night.
“The population of each species is thought to be around one million in Ireland. If you have a million of them and they weigh five to six grams, if you multiply that, that’s over ten tonnes of insects that are eaten every night by just two of the nine species of bats we have in Ireland .
Cats are the biggest enemies of bats, she notes. One cat can wipe out an entire colony, waiting for them to come out at dusk or return just before dawn.
“We would ask people to keep their cats for at least an hour after dark and if possible bring them in before dawn so the bats have a chance.”
Susan says the bats are also under pressure from hedgerows and old buildings being demolished as they use them as cover to catch their insect meals.
Caring for injured baby bats is a lot of work, she explains.
“They have to be fed a special milk formula. This should be done every two and a half hours, 24 hours a day, for the first few weeks.
Bats are a protected species under the Wildlife Act. Anyone who finds a bat in distress can contact Susan and Bat Rehabilitation Ireland on Facebook, as well as support the group in their work by making a donation.