THE RSPCA has commended the Friends of Bumble Hole and a team of community volunteers for their work in helping wildlife after a diesel spillage last year.

The substance, believed to be mainly red diesel with traces of cooking oil, left a red substance lying on the surface of the water at Bumble Hole Nature reserve when it came through the surface water drainage system and a culvert into the pool on December 29, 2020.

A number of small fish were found dead on the surface while wildlife including Canada geese, swans, coots, moorhens and ducks were coated with a dark substance. Many were rescued and treated by the RSPCA.

Around 50 to 60 people were involved in the clean-up, from those on the ground pulling animals from the slick for decontamination, to kind-hearted residents who dropped by with towels, blankets and refreshments.

The volunteers worked alongside the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations to help save as many animals as possible. They were then taken away for decontamination and the RSPCA was able to return several Canada geese to the site at a later date.

A dedicated core of volunteers were there for four full days in the cold December weather, with many more helping over the week, while contractors Veolia and Aqua Force worked on behalf of the council to contain the diesel and begin to clear it.

Brenda Myers, one of the conservation team volunteers said: "It was really distressing, we love wildlife and we love the reserve. To see the animals in such a state was heartbreaking, but we all pulled together to try and make a difference.

"Everyone helped to make this happen, the friends, volunteers, members of the public, old and young. Whether they were there all week or just dropped by with supplies, it all helped.

"You have to remember that in December we were still in the height of Covid and many people were anxious about coming out. Those that did, did a sterling job and this award is for them."

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley's cabinet member for public realm, said: "This was such a distressing incident at the time, and we’ve worked with Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency on the subsequent clean-up, which cost the taxpayer more than £25,000 to clean up.

"Without the quick actions of the volunteers at the nature reserve who reported it, we could have seen an even more serious impact on the nature reserve and our wonderful local wildlife.

"This recognition by the RSPCA is well deserved and again reinforces the value of our amazing friends and volunteers who all pulled together and worked so hard to save the wildlife."

The RSPCA's Boris Robinson said it was a "happy privilege" to present a certificate of merit to the volunteers and community members at Bumble Hole and he added: "It was astounding and incredibly touching to see young and old come out day after day in the snow and ice searching for and rescuing contaminated birds.

"As the hours passed it became increasingly heartbreaking work as contaminated birds would be found waterlogged, feathers frozen, and collapsed with hypothermia, or sadly having died from the cold."