DEVASTATED nature reserve manager Ray Jackson has been overwhelmed by the ‘amazing’ response from wildlife lovers to the theft of tame foxes from the reserve.

Two foxes were taken during Friday’s late-night raid at Lower Moss Wood Educational Nature Reserve and Wildlife Hospital.

Appalled by the theft, Lower Moss Wood volunteer Gaynor Charles set up an online donations page on Saturday in the hope of raising a few hundred pounds to improve security at the reserve.

Her plea for support has been met by a huge outpouring of sympathy from the public, and the donations page - - has raised more than £13,700 from donations by almost 1,000 people.

In addition a firm has stepped in to install a CCTV system at the reserve free of charge, a system due to be operational this week. The police have been informed about the theft of the foxes.

The nature reserve consists of 18 acres of woodland divided into different habitats, and the wildlife hospital admits about 2,000 wildlife casualties each year.

This can be anything from an injured fox or badger to an orphaned hedgehog or fledgling bird, the aim being to treat and care for every animal or bird with the intention of releasing them back into the wild.

The gang who targeted the reserve broke into pens and stole foxes called Alice and Rift.

Ray said: “No words can express how I feel, and all the volunteers who care for these animals will also be devastated.

“The foxes’ pens were deliberately broken into after the locks were smashed.

“We can only hope they escaped and will return, but that I doubt.

“You can draw your own conclusions to what type of people would do such a thing.”

He was overwhelmed by the donations from the public, and the offer of a free CCTV system by Manchester firm Red Dam Group, whose owner David Mylett described the theft of the foxes as ‘despicable’.

“The CCTV offer is very generous, and the amount raised online is amazing,” he said.

“However it will not bring the foxes back, and we will use the donations to rebuild some of the pens and make them more secure.”

Gaynor said: “When I heard about the foxes being stolen I was so upset, and started the online donations page at 4pm on Saturday.

“I didn’t think it would get that many donations, but within two hours it had reached £2,000.

“I’m amazed by the response to the appeal – it’s fantastic. I’m overwhelmed by how fast it has grown.

“I’m still saddened by the loss of the foxes, but this has restored my faith in humanity.

“These beautiful animals were being cared for by the fabulous staff and volunteers.

“I have volunteered there regularly, and can’t tell you how much I admire and respect Ray and his team of volunteers.

“Please donate any amount you can, no matter how small, to help raise funds for security cameras, alarms and secure enclosures for this wonderful place.”

Lower Moss Wood featured on BBC TV programme Countryfile on Sunday, and included Val Cooper, who has been volunteering there for more than 25 years.

Countryfile presenter Steve Brown visited the reserve to meet the volunteers, and hand-fed Rift with Val’s help.

Val said on the programme: “Rift came to us last year. He had had his back end really badly bitten. He was very poorly for quite a long time, but he’s coming along really well now. He’s quite subdued, but he’s getting there.

“We’ve got Alice next door. She comes to you, jumps about and really wants to be involved. She was found as a cub and was brought up in a garden. Because she’s habituated to humans she can’t be released.”

A Cheshire Police spokesman said: "On Saturday, February 2 Cheshire Police received a call in relation to the Lower Moss Wood Educational Nature Reserve, on School Lane, Ollerton, and a report of two foxes having been released or stolen from the site.

"The incident is believed to have occurred between 3pm on Friday, February 1 and 11am on Saturday, February 2. Anyone with information is asked to call Cheshire Police on 101, quoting incident number IML 310905, or alternatively via our website at"