FIRE crews were called to rescue a fox that fell off a cliff.

Part of the underpass between Brighton Marina and Ovingdean was blocked on Saturday afternoon as fire fighters attempted to rescue a fox that was stranded on the netting used to stop rocks falling on to the underpass below.

Walkers and cyclists were asked to remain on either side as crews tried to catch the fox with a net to bring it to safety.

Station manager Darran Sampson, at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called around 3pm to assist the RSPCA with a fox stuck on some protective netting halfway down the undercliff.

“He must have fallen off the cliff on Friday night and had been trapped on this netting. The public passing underneath had become distressed seeing him stuck up there.”

There were gasps from bystanders as the fox attempted to climb back to the top of the cliff, before falling more than 10 metres back down on to the netting.

Mr Sampson said: “We realised that he was trying to make his way up the cliff, and all the well-meaning bystanders were stopping him from doing the route he wanted to do, which was to come down.

“Because of the unsuccessful attempt he made to climb up – and he’s probably been doing that all night – we realised the key was to clear the people, and let him find his own way down.”

Once the area had been cleared, the fox was able to jump down on to the underpass floor, and escaped with what appeared to be an injured leg.

Mr Sampson said: “He probably would have liked to have laid there and seen it out until tonight, but people were obviously very distressed seeing him.

“The risk was always that a member of the public would have gone and got a ladder and attempted to do it themselves – which is unsafe, so we had to resolve it today.”

“It was right to let him find his way out of the situation – we just made it safe for the bystanders and for the fox itself.

“They’re very resilient creatures – he’ll be holed up somewhere now, and will probably find himself a drink and make his way home tonight.”