Lismore City SES unit officer Neville Graham said the rescue team went out on the Richmond River, which was recently labelled as a disgusting mess to rescue a number of cows which were stuck along the river bank.
Lismore City SES unit officer Neville Graham said the rescue team went out on the Richmond River, which was recently labelled as a disgusting mess to rescue a number of cows which were stuck along the river bank. Marc Stapelberg

SES tasked to rescue cows stuck in 'disgusting' river

DEAD cows aren't the only thing in the Richmond River, SES unit officers have warned - with the floating carcasses sure to attract bull sharks.

Lismore City SES unit officer Neville Graham said the rescue team went out on the Richmond River, which was recently labelled as a "disgusting mess", to rescue a number of cows which were stuck along the river bank.

"10-11 days ago we went out and tried to rescue all the live animals we could find," Mr Graham said.

"Four were alive when we got there, but one died during rescue process.

"There were already 10 animals that were deceased and a number of animals had swum across the river and got onto other properties.

"We don't know how many deceased animals there were in total but we counted 11 that we had contact with."

Along with SES volunteers Mr Graham said they took on the task with a vet, and a Richmond Valley Council ranger to rescue three of the trapped cows successfully.

He said normally the task would fall on the property owner, but said it was part of the SES charter as a rescue organisation to save people and then animals.

"Cows don't last very long when they're overly stressed and stuck in water. Two to three days I'd say but when they get stressed it makes their condition worsen really quickly.

"With the amount of cows that were stuck this time was very rare, as normally owners of the animals take the action.

"But it appeared the only water available was in the river so the cows decided that's where they needed to be.

"They were all stuck in a river bank that was very steep...they couldn't physically climb back up to the paddock.

"The way we try and get them is to lasso the animal around the neck and lead it to where it can get out itself.

"This time we had to pull two of them out of where they were stuck between the bank and the trees.

"It can be a dangerous task, cows can be quite heavy and cumbersome animals...and often try to fight."

He said the state of the river was shocking with "all the dead animals still floating down it".

"We know bull sharks come up and down and having the extra stuff in the river isn't going to be that good for people using the river safety-wise.

"It's not a good time to go swimming down around Coraki or Woodburn areas with those animals decaying in the water."