Susan Kerwin pictured above is pleading for cat owners to take extra precautions to protect local wildlife
Susan Kerwin campaigns for responsible cat ownership in bird and mammal breeding season
By I Love Limerick Correspondent Tara Byrne
Limerick’s wildlife lover and rehabilitator Susan Kerwin has set up a campaign called #doyouknowwhereyourcatis. Susan is the founder of Ireland’s first bat dedicated hospital called ‘Bat Rehabilitation Ireland’.
Bat Rehabilitation Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers who are willing to provide advice and are dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of Ireland’s Bats and native wildlife.
Susan’s love of bats began during a dark time in her life when the mother-of-two was diagnosed with cervical cancer at 27. She underwent a hysterectomy and radiation therapy. Susan believes bats are one of the most misunderstood mammals and believe they are gentle and social creatures. She said, “I noticed the bats flying around the trees and street lights and I became fascinated by them. Giving an animal a second chance is an amazing feeling because, after surviving cancer, it feels like I also got a second chance.”
This time of the year, animals such as leverets, or young hares are being born all over Ireland. Birds are also beginning to nest in the hedgerows with vulnerable nestlings hatching in the coming months. Hedgehogs will be giving birth to young and rabbits kits will be venturing out of burrows.
Susan said, “Bats are now beginning to come out of hibernation and soon it will be time for the females to go back to their maternity roost to give birth. Please by just making sure to keep your cat in for an hour after dark, you will give the bats enough time to emerge from their roosts safely and could save countless lives.”
She added, “Bats play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem and these beautiful creatures need to be protected. By one simple step, you can do your part in protecting our bats.”
Susan suggests that if you have a pet cat that you should do the following to protect local wildlife:
- Put a bell on your cat’s collar to alert wildlife to their presence.
- Build a secure outdoor area for your cat to exercise.
- Keep cats in during the day when fledgelings are learning to fly and young mammals are being born
- Neuter your cats and support charities that provide TNR programs.
- Love, protect and respect our wildlife as much as we do our pets.
Susan is currently running a GoFundMe page to help raise vital funds to help care for bats. So far, €2,367 has been
raised on the €3,000 target. Susan said, “At present, we do not have charity status which means we do not receive any funding and rely totally on the generosity of our supporters to help us run the hospital. Soon bats will be coming out of hibernation, pups will start being born and we will be run off our feet trying to care for injured adults and hand-raising bat pups needing 24hr care and 2hr feeds.”
She added, “We are trying to raise funds to help towards food, veterinary fees and large electric bills due to incubator’s that are vital to the bat pup’s care running 24hrs for weeks on end. Our wish is to help all of the bats that need our help and to care for and protect these precious creatures.” Bat Rehabilitation Ireland would appreciate any help the community can give.
For more information or advice, you can contact Susan through the Bat Rehabilitation Ireland Facebook page or at [email protected]
To donate to Bat Rehabilitation Ireland go HERE
For more stories about Bat Rehabilitation Ireland go HERE