A cow trapped on a cliff ledge has been airlifted to safety by a military helicopter two weeks after a bullock owned by the same farmer had to be rescued in a similar operation.

The Hereford-cross heifer was believed to have slipped while trying to escape dogs and ended up 150 feet below the cliff top at Gwennap Head, near Lands End, Cornwall.

It was winched to safety by the crew of a Sea King helicopter from the Royal Naval air station at Culdrose. Two weeks ago a Charolais steer belonging to the same farmer Andrew Flower was rescued from a spot only feet away.

On that occasion the mission was delayed for three days due to a dispute between Ministry of Defence and RSPCA officials over who would pay the £5,000 rescue bill. The MoD eventually agreed to waive the fee, saying it was treating the rescue as part of an exercise.

cow lifted

This time, the MoD also waived the fee and again treated the rescue as part of an exercise.

Last week another cow washed up dead along the same coastline, as it was disclosed that either it or the first rescued bullock may have been stranded for weeks.

Now a row has begun over animal cruelty issues, and who is responsible sparking the costly rescue operations.

Cattle-grazing was introduced on the cliff at Gwennap Head last year, despite opposition from residents.

The local authority, St Levan Parish Council, said in a statement: "Three cattle have gone over the cliff. The trauma caused to the cattle amounts to cruelty and the cost of rescuing them and the use of the emergency services in doing so is unacceptable.

"We feel that, with the best interests of the cattle at heart, this project should now be ended."

However, Mr Flower and the RSPCA blamed pet dogs for forcing the cows over the cliff edge, and criticised owners for not keeping them under control.

Mr Flower, said: "The owners of the dogs are the cruel ones for allowing the dogs to chase the cows.

"I think there's room for everybody to be up on the cliffs, we just need the odd one or two dog owners to control their dogs.

"I think it will settle down eventually.

"I don't know the answer to it all. We're still in the process of working it out."

The RSPCA said the heifer, rescued on Wednesday, had damage to its left horn and a swollen left back leg and shoulder. It was given food and water, while it awaited rescue.

An RSPCA spokesman said: "Dog walkers have been seen on several occasions allowing their pets to run out of control and chase cattle which are currently being grazed on cliff tops.

"We have been told that the farmer has been unable to contain his animals, as despite his desire to do so, he is prevented from fencing the land by the landowner and manager on conservation grounds. We will be working with the landowner to try and ensure this does not happen again."

Mr Flower has met Natural England and the RSPB, which introduced the grazing to attract rare Cornish choughs to the area.

It was agreed a temporary electric fence would be erected so the cattle won't be near the cliff edge, however a permanent solution is still being debated.