A sheep who was stuck on Conwy Mountain in North Wales for four days was helped to safety by RSPCA officers after they made sheep noises to try and locate her.
Inspectors Andrew Broadbent and Mark Roberts carried out the dramatic rescue – using pruning saws to clear a path through the head-high vegetation – after the ewe is thought to have fallen off a ledge near the top.
She’d tumbled about twenty metres (65 feet) down the cliff face before coming to rest – uninjured – in a dense thicket of brambles which had become entangled in her fleece.
After an hour of searching on the mountain, the officers decided to call out to the ewe by making baaing noises and to their delight she answered back and they were able to follow the sound of her cries and find her.
The alarm was first raised on Tuesday (20 September) by a woman staying in a holiday park at the foot of the mountain who called the RSPCA after noticing that the ewe had not moved from her location for four days.
At first, as the RSPCA inspectors stood on the road and surveyed the landscape, they couldn’t even see the sheep – until a little white head popped up from amongst the undergrowth.
Their ascent to reach her took them about 100 metres (328 feet) up the mountain.
Andrew (pictured above, with colleague Mark behind) said: “We took a walker’s path to the right and then made our way down from above, to the area where we thought she’d be.
“It was a hot and challenging climb and it took us about an hour to push and cut our way through the brambles, bracken and gorse – by which time Mark and I had a fair few splinters and scratches. We still couldn’t see her as the undergrowth was so dense and tall, so we tried to locate her by making bleating noises – and to our relief she replied.
“We kept ‘talking’ to her, getting closer and closer all the time and eventually found her sheltering on a little ridge surrounded by thick brambles. After cutting her free and checking for injuries we then followed the path we had just come down, both of us part carrying, part pushing her back up the mountain so she could rejoin her flock.
“It wasn’t the easiest of jobs given the terrain and the fairly warm weather, especially as she kept munching on brambles as we were going along, but it was really nice to be able to finally release her after what must have been a stressful and fairly unpleasant ordeal.”
The officers then watched as the ewe safely returned to her flock.
It’s not the first time this year that RSPCA officers have been involved in dramatic rescue missions in North Wales. In January, Andrew and Mark’s colleague, animal rescue officer Dean Wilkins, saved the life of another ewe after he caught her by one hand in a bid to stop her plunging to her death from a ledge on the Great Orme.
The following month officers from the animal welfare charity abseiled down the headland again to reach another sheep who had become stranded just hours before the arrival of Storm Dudley. And last September, the RSPCA teamed up with Conwy County Borough Council to lay a path of hay bales for 21 goats who had become stranded on a rocky outcrop – again on the Great Orme.
The RSPCA advises members of the public who come across sheep trapped in circumstances such as this, not to attempt a rescue themselves.