Britain’s biggest walkers’ charity has called for a rethink on the law on keeping livestock in fields.

The Ramblers statement came after a walker was killed and his wife critically injured when they were attacked while walking on a public footpath across a field on the Nottinghamshire-Leicestershire border.

The organisation also issued advice to members of the public walking in areas where cattle are grazing.

The Ramblers pointed out that solitary bulls, and bulls of certain breeds, are already banned from being contained in fields with public footpaths. But the introduction of new breeds may mean it is time for legislation to be reviewed.

Campaigns officer Rachel Alcock said: “We have worked closely with the National Farmers Union over cattle management issues and hope to continue to do so but we remain concerned that bulls are allowed in fields with public footpaths when there seems to be no guarantee that supposedly ‘safe’ breeds are actually safe.

“With new breeds of bull being introduced, and changing livestock temperaments being observed, it seems that now is the time to review legislation to ensure the safety and best interests of the public.”

Ms Alcock extended the Ramblers’ condolences to the victims of the attack in Stanford on Soar. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the gentleman who lost his life, his injured wife, and their family following a bull attack while out walking on a public footpath on Friday,” she said.

The Ramblers said: “Attacks by animals are extremely rare but do take place. The Ramblers advise their members and the public to be prepared for animals to react to their presence, especially if a dog is present.  It advises the public to walk carefully and quietly near livestock and to close gates when walking through fields containing livestock. Dogs must be kept under control and only released if the livestock becomes threatening and the owner fears for their own safety.”

The couple attacked near Underhill Farm, 3km (2 miles) north-east of Loughborough, did not have a dog with them. Ms Alcock said: “The Ramblers advise people to walk carefully and quietly near livestock and to close gates when walking through fields containing animals.”

The 67-year-old woman remains critical but stable in the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham after the attack, during which her 63-year-old husband died. The names of the couple, from Glen Parva in Leicestershire, have not yet been released.

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