VICTORIA -- A Greater Victoria animal rescue centre recently saved a group of young squirrels that were found with their tails entangled in tree sap.

The BC SPCA’s Wildlife Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) in Metchosin says five Eastern Grey Squirrels were brought to the centre with their tails entwined in sap that had apparently melted during a recent heat wave and later solidified.

Rescuers say a resident found the five siblings stuck to the ground and unable to free themselves.

A Wild ARC volunteer cut the animals free from the grass and brought them to the centre where a rehab team got to work on them immediately.

It took rescuers over an hour to separate the animals without causing further injury. The squirrels had apparently tried to chew themselves free.

“The squirrels were exhausted and stressed after their ordeal, and were kept warm and in a quiet place to allow them to stabilize before full exams were performed to fully assess the extent of their injuries,” Wild ARC says in a statement on their website.

“Unfortunately, one of the squirrels had injuries that would not have healed, and was humanely euthanized to prevent further suffering.”

The rescue centre says the four surviving squirrels suffered extensive damage to their tails, all of which had to be amputated to prevent infection.

“Surgery for three of the squirrels went well; they recovered quickly and were recently moved to an outdoor enclosure to practice navigating and foraging on their own,” Wild ARC says. “The fourth squirrel had some complications but we are optimistic that this little squirrel will join its siblings outside soon.”

Rescuers say that while squirrels use their tails for balance, they can adapt to compensate for its loss.

Wild ARC manager Andrea Wallace says the squirrels were released some time over the past week but added that the rescue centre does not provide exact times or locations when animals are released to prevent people trying to interact with them.

Wild ARC says the intensive care the squirrels required was expensive and the centre has set up a fundraising page which achieved 65 per cent of its $2,995 goal by noon on Wednesday.