Flemish wildlife shelters took in 42,500 animals last year

Flanders' wildlife shelters took in more than 42,500 wild animals in 2023. The hedgehog remains by far the animal that was brought in most, according to data collected by non-profit Bird Protection Flanders.

The agency compiled statistics from the 10 wildlife shelters in Flanders, which shows that they took in a total of 42,556 wild animals last year. That’s more than the 40,000 animals of 2022, when only nine shelters were included in the count.

The animal that was brought in most was the hedgehog: there were 8,412 taken in in 2023, a big increase compared to 2022's figure of 5,500 but below 2021's 9,300) The animals end up in the shelters mostly because of "hedgehog disease", a bacterial infection that causes ulcers and festering sores. Many hedgehogs are also injured in traffic.

Bird species complete the top six most frequently admitted animals: the wood pigeon (5,996), collared dove (2,071), blackbird (2,046), jackdaw (1,923) and house sparrow (1,687). Other wild animals that regularly arrive at wildlife shelters include roe deer, hares, tits, herring gulls, magpies, red squirrels and robins.

“Among birds, nestlings are most often brought in,” said a Bird Protection Flanders spokesperson. “The young have fallen out of the nest, are abandoned by the parents or seized by a predator, a cat for example." However, the organisation said that many nestlings do not actually need help and are better just placed back in the nest.

Besides wild animals, wildlife shelters also care for certain illegally kept, abused or lost pets – for example parakeets, parrots, tawny owls, flamingos and boa constrictors. The total number of these seized or lost pets amounted to 7,574 in 2023.


#FlandersNewsService | A staff member carries a hedgehog © PHOTO LOU BENOIST / AFP

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