Cow at sea sparks rescue attempt
A ROGUE steer that escaped from a cattle export ship has died despite a team effort from paddlers to try to save it.
The steer escaped during the loading process overnight and was unable to be located.
An outrigger canoe club training at the time and individual kayakers banded together this morning for an impromptu rescue effort but the steer didn't survive.
Outrigger canoeist Pam Roberts said they were out doing their morning training when they spotted about half a dozen paddlers gathering in the water.
"They were trying to get a rope around the cow," she said.
"We went around to help because we had a bigger boat.
"We had a couple of people get in the water as well.
"They put a life jacket around the cow and a rope to try to bring it in.
Ms Roberts said the cow died on the way back to shore.
"I think it was at the point of exhaustion," she said.
"It was extremely sad."
A Port of Townsville spokeswoman said a single animal being loaded onto a vessel last night managed to escape and could not be retrieved.
"The incident is unfortunate and the exporter has advised us they will conduct an investigation into the matter," she said.
An Australian Livestock Exporters' Council spokesman said Australian livestock exporters "invest significantly in reducing risks to animal welfare".
"When an extremely rare yet tragic incident occurs despite all precautionary measures taken, the Department of Agriculture is advised immediately and an investigation is undertaken, with the full cooperation of the exporter and industry," he said.
Townsville City Council staff were helping to monitor the scene this morning.