THE founder of a wildlife rescue centre says she fears they will be forced to close, if the current Covid-19 crisis drags on.

Caroline Gould, the founder of the Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre, has described the situation as "dire", and launched a desperate appeal for help.

The centre has been carrying out crucial work to rescue, rehabilitate and release sick, injured and orphaned British wildlife, over the last 36 years.

But facing the biggest challenge in its history it has now been forced to take unprecedented action to survive.

The centre usually has 25 staff, ensuring it is open around the clock, but this number has had to be reduced as well as losing casual workers and volunteers.

READ MORE: Charity's bike ride goes virtual

READ MORE: Age UK Worcester loses 80% of funding – but had 350 calls in a week from worried pensioners

The Vale Wildlife Charity Shop in High Street, Evesham, that is relied on for a third of the centre's total annual income, is currently closed as part of the government guidelines. The annual open day, the charity's single largest fundraiser, has had to be cancelled as well as other fundraising activities including fete attendances and supermarket collections.

And several hedgehog first aid and care courses held at the centre and at venues nationally, have had to be cancelled with the loss of even more regular income.

Despite the financial hit, the centre's work its still continuing with 100 hedgehogs currently in its care, and casualties still being brought in daily.

"We are both morally and professionally obliged to provide emergency treatment to casualties requiring it, meaning that we don’t have the option of closing our doors," the centre manager said.

"We have already had to take radical actions to try to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to our staff and service users, as well as attempting to mitigate any long-term damage to the hospital.

"We have survived ‘hand-to-mouth’ since inception in 1984.

"We have enough money for three to four months, but after six month we won't have the money to carry on.

"There has been talk of a government package to support charities, but that has gone quiet.

"Many of the injuries are human caused - last year we helped 7,000 animals, and 95 per cent were caused by people's actions, like them being hit by a car.

"Someone has to pick up the pieces. If centres like ours are gone, who helps the animals then?"

To make a donation visit, or call the centre on 01386 882288.