Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lifeboat towed stranded calf to safety after it plunged from cliff

A lifeboat was dispatched on a mission to rescue stranded livestock at the weekend. A volunteer crew with Red Bay RNLI was scrambled to action to save a stuck calf on Saturday after the unfortunate animal plunged off a cliff. The alarm was raised at 1.45pm when a farmer contacted Belfast Coastguard requesting assistance after the animal fell and became stranded on an inaccessible part of the coastline near Cushendun in county Antrim, Northern Ireland.

In a statement, it said that after “assessing all options it was decided that the only way to recover the animal safely was take it in harness and gently float it a short distance out to sea. Then it could be guided and brought ashore further up the coastline where the farmer could safely collect the animal.” The crew returned to the station to collect more men and equipment for what was dubbed a “challenging recovery”.

The calf was swaddled in a net and tethered to the lifeboat. The lifeboat crew then towed the animal slowly a quarter-of-a-mile along the the coastline, where it was retrieved by the farmer. The RNLI’s Red Bay lifeboat helm Paddy McLaughlin said: “This was not your usual call-out for the lifeboat crew. When we heard the poor animal had fallen and was stranded, we felt we could help.”

He said they had good training and equipment, but that he did not know of any similar cases where they had been deployed to save animal life, rather than human life. “I’m not sure a lifeboat net has ever been used to recover an animal before,” he added. “But there is a first time for everything. The calf did not seem to be injured after his fall and made his way back inland with the farmer after we dropped them off.”

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