A terrified deer trapped 40 metres from the ground after getting stuck on a quarry ledge was only saved after a brave Nottinghamshire Police dog handler put all of his skills in action to stage a rescue.
PC Jonathan Whysall, of Nottinghamshire Police’s dog section, was drafted in after an initial attempt by the fire service to rescue the animal was left on a cliff-hanger.
A firefighter from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue had previously abseiled towards the male fallow deer but as it was frightened there was a fear he would jump off the ledge and fall to his death.
So the RSPCA, fire service and Nottinghamshire Police came up with a rescue plan to try to save the deer, which was trapped at Breedon Quarry at Breedon-on-the-Hill, on the border of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, on Monday 23 June 2020.
The plan was to sedate the deer using a dart so it could be then lifted back up the sheer rock face using ropes.
PC Whysall said: “The deer was clearly very frightened, and to make sure it didn’t cause itself any further harm the rescue plan had to be very carefully thought out.
“Working together with the RSPCA and the fire and rescue service, we decided it would be best to sedate the deer and use ropes to lift him to safety.
“There are a number of us who are specially trained to use sedation for safety purposes, so when the RSPCA called upon us due to their trained Chief Inspector being called away to another emergency, I was happy to help.”
The large deer was reached safely and a stretcher, which is used for rescuing people, attached to it and then pulled to safety. The deer was then checked over by a vet and the RSPCA and was found to be fit and healthy. Once he was unstrapped from the stretcher he ran off into nearby woodland.
“We’re very pleased that he was okay as believe he had been on the ledge for quite a while before we were able to rescue him, and it was beautiful to see him run off into the woodland safe and well,” added PC Whysall. “Had we not been able to do this it could have been quite another story for the poor deer.”
RSPCA Animal Collection Officer (ACO) Caitlin McNaughton added: “It was a difficult rescue because the deer was stuck 20 metres down a rock face and 40 metres above ground. We were obviously worried because the deer was terrified and there was a real concern if anyone went near he would try to escape which would mean jumping off.
“So we decided the safest way for the best outcome would be sedate him and then bring him back up.
“I was so delighted it all worked perfectly but it took some time to get him from the ledge – because he was so heavy he needed a stretcher rather than a harness and it took about two hours to get him back to the top.
“But I checked him over along with my colleague ACO Helen Fielding along with a vet and he was found to be in really good condition.
“He didn’t have a scratch on him which is amazing considering he fell such a long way down a sharp rock face. He was also lucky as the ledge did have some greenery on and the recent rain would have helped keep him hydrated.
“We were able to release him near a woodland nearby and he ran off looking pleased to get away. He was one very fortunate deer and it was great that teamwork with the police and fire service and also quarry staff certainly saved his life. We are always grateful for this assistance.”
Chris Parsons, Station Manager at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We often work alongside the RSPCA to rescue animals in distress. This deer was unfortunately stranded on a ledge approximately 20 metres down a 40-metre drop. We worked alongside our colleagues, using a rope operator to put the deer to sleep, enabling us to rescue it whilst causing as little discomfort to the animal as possible.”