Cattle can feel threatened by walkers with dogs

Cattle can feel threatened by walkers with dogs

In a sign of the times, the Ramblers are teaming up with the National Farmers’ Union to warn walkers of the dangers of strolling with dogs through fields with cattle in them.

The move follows a spate of incidents in which cows have trampled walkers, including one where a veterinary surgeon died on the Pennine Way after cattle attacked her while she was walking with her two dogs. In a recent court case, a judge awarded £¼ million to Shirley McKaskie who was left severely disabled when a herd crushed her. A farmer was recently killed while herding his cattle on a road when they were spooked by a passing fire engine.

Now, a warning sign has been produced for farmers to put up, which reads: ‘Your dog can scare or harm farm animals – Keep it on a lead around livestock, but let go if chased by cattle’.

Ramblers chief executive Tom Franklin

Ramblers' chief executive Tom Franklin

The move is backed by the Ramblers, the largest campaign group in Britain for walkers. Its chief executive Tom Franklin said: “The British countryside is working land where animals graze in close proximity to walkers, which is why it’s such a pleasure to walk in. As with any working environment there are certain risks and it is untenable to remove all those risks from our surroundings.

The warning signs will give advice to dog walkers

The warning signs will give advice to dog walkers

“Incidents of people being attacked by cattle are few and far between, thankfully, and it would be counter to the interest of people who walk and farmers alike to see cattle closed off behind fences in fields.

“We urge people who walk not to let the very low risk of cattle attacks put them off enjoying the countryside when it is at its loveliest.”

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “Farmers take care before placing livestock into fields, particularly those with a footpath, but equally the public should also be aware and must know what to do if cattle approach them.

“That is why we support the advice of the Ramblers for walkers with dogs. However we must not forget that the countryside is where farmers earn their living and that is where cattle and sheep will be grazed.”

The yellow and black signs have been produced by the NFU for its members and remind walkers what to do if threatened by animals while dog walking.

Advice from the Ramblers is:

  • Try not to get between cows and their calves
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you
  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd
  • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead
  • Don’t hang onto your dog. If you are threatened by cattle, let it go as the cattle will chase the dog.
  • Don’t put yourself at risk. Find another way round the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible
  • Don’t panic or run! Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow just walk on quietly.

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