A rescue operation to save 60 sheep trapped on a sea cliff in Pembrokeshire has entered a third day.
Around 60 sheep were believed to be trapped at Mathry – possible after being scared over by a dog. Due to the steepness of the cliff (around 70-80 metres high), they were unable to get back up themselves and have been spread over a wide area in groups.
Specialist trained rope rescue and boat rescue teams from the RSPCA began the challenging operation on Monday. They were also joined by officers from Mid and West Fire & Rescue Service’s rope rescue teams and Dyfed Powys Police’s rural crime team.
The rescue has involved officers abseiling down the seacliff, with the sheep rescued and bagged, and brought back to safety. Other sheep lower down the cliff have been rescued by officers on the boat rescue team from the sea.
RSPCA animal welfare officer Andrew Harris, who has been leading this operation, said the rescue is likely to go on for a few more days.
He said: “This has been a highly complex and challenging operation to ensure these sheep are brought to safety. Due to the large numbers of sheep that are in need of help, the challenging location along with the difficult weather conditions, this has so far been a tough task, but we are making progress.
“On Monday around 40 sheep were successfully rescued and on Tuesday three sheep were taken to safety. Tuesday’s weather conditions made the operation a much more difficult task. A couple of sheep that were able to, were coaxed up the cliff themselves as well.
“Today (Wednesday) the weather is pretty treacherous so we are currently monitoring the situation to see if any rescues can take place.”
AWO Harris added: “We would very much like to thank everyone who has helped us this week, which once again demonstrates the strength of our multi-agency partnerships we have across Wales”
Station Manager Steve Richards, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service supported these rescue operations undertaken by the RSPCA technical rescue team.
“The sheep rescue involved 10 Fire Service personnel, which consisted of the Level 3 Rope Rescue Team from Pontardawe and supported by an On Call Supervisor and a Level 2 Rope Rescue team from Haverfordwest.
“The operation was very challenging due to the exposed location of the sheep on a steep cliff face.
“It was a great learning experience to work alongside our colleagues from the RSPCA to rescue these stranded animals, who would have most certainly died without the combined efforts of the RSPCA and Fire Service.
“Working together in these challenging environments helps share good working practices and means a better response to the public we both serve.”
RSPCA would like to urge people and dog walkers to take care around farm animals and ensure that their dog is kept on the lead at all times when in or near fields containing livestock.
If you spot an animal in distress, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.