A WILDLIFE rescue organisation has been "devastated" by a series of deaths believed to have been caused by contaminated milk.

Six animals, including a young rabbit, a hare, a vole, fox cub and a young hedgehog all became ill and died within a matter of hours at Selby Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation. Annette Pyrah who runs the organisation, said the losses were "heartbreaking".

She said: "The wildlife rescue has been knocked for six and we are devastated.

"We have lost one baby after another and could not fathom out why. The only connection is they were all fed on Esbilac milk. The Vale Wildlife Hospital have also had problems and have lost baby hedgehogs. They too were fed on Esbilac milk. Samples have been sent off for examination."

Annette said she was waiting for details on whether the milk could have caused the animals to suffer laboured breathing and die, and has contacted PetAg, manufacturers of the product, for advice and answers.

Selby Wildlife still has hundreds of pounds' worth of the powdered milk replacement in its stores, but has rehomed all its mammals until Annette hears more.

Annette said: "I've now got no milk to feed the baby mammals and I've lost them all.

"They were alright, on the mend, and I opened the milk and they've died. It's absolutely devastated me, I can't stop crying over it. I've put so much work into helping these babies and they've gone."

A statement from PetAg said samples of the powder retained by the company had been tested and found to conform to required specifications, but further investigation was underway.

It said: "PetAg is conducting a thorough investigation to gather any information available regarding these reported incidents including retrieving product for testing that was within the proximity of these incidents.

"We at PetAg take the quality and efficacy of our products very seriously. As a part of our manufacturing processes, we analyse our products at the time of manufacture and retain samples of all production lots. We have reviewed test data for the lots in question and have confirmed that the product retention samples conformed to specifications. Products collected from the field will also be evaluated in conjunction with other variables possibly contributing to these incidents."

Anyone suspecting a similar incident should contact PetAg through their website petag.com