Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue and TLC Towing rescue cow trapped in mud

Crews saved a milking cow that had slid down a 20-foot embankment and was stuck up to its belly

Crews from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue (CCFR) and TLC Towing came to the rescue of a milking cow that slid down a 20-foot embankment Thursday and was stuck in mud up to her belly.

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue firefighters are shown here getting straps around the cow stuck in mud near Ridgefield. Photo courtesy of Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue
Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue firefighters are shown here getting straps around the cow stuck in mud near Ridgefield. Photo courtesy of Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue

On Thursday afternoon, the cow’s owners worked for several hours to cut back blackberry bushes and dig the cow out, but the cow just sank deeper into the mud. After exhausting their options, the family called CCFR to ask for assistance.

The on-duty CCFR Battalion Chief drove to the site at 3717 NE 259th Street, east of Ridgefield, and determined that firefighters could likely lift the cow out of the mud with the assistance of a crane. Two CCFR units responded to the scene and began preparing the cow to be lifted while TLC Towing in Ridgefield was called to assist.

TLC Towing responded with a “Rotator Wrecker,” which is a large, heavy-duty wrecker used for towing large vehicles. The “Rotator” is equipped with a crane that can swing from side-to-side and lift heavy loads. TLC often uses the Rotator Wreckers to recover large trucks and trailers that have rolled over.

Once TLC arrived and set up the crane, firefighters placed lifting straps around the cow and resumed digging around the legs. The TLC crane then began slow and steady lifting pressure on the cow. 

With the assistance of TLC Towing, firefighters were able to lift the cow out of the mud. Photo courtesy of Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue
With the assistance of TLC Towing, firefighters were able to lift the cow out of the mud. Photo courtesy of Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue

When people or animals get stuck in wet mud, the mud creates a “suction” around the legs. The more the legs are pulled on, the more the suction tries to hold the legs in place. For this reason, the crane operator and the firefighters digging out the legs had to work in unison to ensure the animal (or, in some cases, a person) is not injured by pulling too hard before the legs are freed.

After about an hour of hard work, the cow’s legs were freed and the crane lifted the cow back onto solid ground. Firefighters ensured the cow could stand on its own and wasn’t injured before removing the lifting straps. The cow was able to bear its own weight, and quickly walked off once the straps were removed.

A milking cow clid down a 20-foot embankment Thursday afternoon and got stuck in the mud. Photo courtesy of Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue
A milking cow clid down a 20-foot embankment Thursday afternoon and got stuck in the mud. Photo courtesy of Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue

The family was grateful to have their pet back safely, according to CCFR Fire Chief John Nohr. TLC Towing did not charge the family for their services during this rescue.

“TLC Towing has been a great partner to CCFR and other emergency response agencies in our region,’’ Nohr said. “They are consistently ready to help us, whether it’s helping untangle a serious vehicle crash or just helping get an animal unstuck.”

CCFR units remained in service during the rescue and were ready to respond to emergency incidents if any had occurred during the rescue.

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue (CCFR) serves 40,000 people over 125 square miles, including the cities of La Center, Ridgefield, Woodland and the Cowlitz Indian Reservation. Our combination department includes full-time and volunteer firefighters responding to an average of 4200 fire and emergency medical calls a year. CCF&R operates under a balanced budget, and has a history of passing independent financial audits by the state.

Information provided by Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue.

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