Tyne & Wear

New threat to homeless squirrels in Northumberland

Squirrels rescued after being blown out of their tree-top home in Northumberland by the remnants of a hurricane are facing a fresh threat.

The four red squirrels are being cared for by an animal rescue centre near Morpeth after the tail of Hurricane Katia hit the area earlier this month.

But now the Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre at Ulgham is facing a cash crisis and possible closure.

Kim Olson, who runs the centre, said donations and grants were drying up.

The volunteer-run centre cares for about 150 animals, including donkeys, horses, birds, goats and even a skunk.

The four tiny red squirrel kittens, thought to be about five weeks old, were found by a passer-by in the aftermath of gale-force winds which battered the region.

But now Ms Olson, who has been running the centre for 19 years, said they and other animals being cared for, were at risk because of a shortage of funds needed to pay for the £70,000-a-year running costs.

She said: "It's never been this bad.

Image caption The squirrels are among about 150 animals being cared for at the centre

"You don't run a sanctuary to make money, but we have never been in such financial difficulties as we face at the moment.

"If it was an office or a business you would just close the doors and walk away. But this isn't like that.

"If we close there will be animals that will have to be put to sleep. A lot of our animals need a great deal of care. Who is going to take them?"

It is hoped the centre's newest arrivals could be released back into the wild next year.

Ms Olson added: "We're planning to release them gradually back into the wild next spring.

"They're doing fine and are extremely lively and mischievous."

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