Walkers get advice on cattle threat

WALKERS in East Sussex, particularly those with dogs, are being warned to take care when they come into contact with cows.

Although there have been no fatalities in East Sussex, there have been incidents of cow attacks - most involving walkers with dogs.

Now the county council is warning that the normally docile animals can become aggressive towards walkers with dogs and charge, especially when calves are present.

The National Farmers’ Union and The Ramblers say cows can feel threatened by dogs and are, therefore, more likely to attack. They have issued advice for walkers:

Do:

• Do be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you

• Do move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd

• Do keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead

Don’t:

• Don’t hang onto your dog. If you are threatened let it go as the cattle will chase the dog

• Don’t get between cows and their calves. Find another way round 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.

Councillor Carl Maynard, lead member for Economy, Transport and Environment at the county council, said, “Thankfully serious incidents involving walkers and cattle are very rare.

“However, we always recommend walkers follow this advice to keep as safe as possible.

“We also encourage people to take a mobile phone when out walking so they can call for help if they need to.”

Malcolm McDonnell, East Sussex Footpath secretary for The Ramblers, said, “Our beautiful countryside is working farmland, which helps form its character and make it such a pleasure.

“Fortunately attacks by cattle are few and far between, but with any working environment there are certain risks.

“We urge those out walking to be aware of the dos and don’ts, especially at this time of year.

“But try not to let the very low risk of cattle attacks put you off enjoying the countryside when it is arguably at its loveliest.”

John Archer, regional adviser for the National Farmers Union said it is important to anticipate contact with animals.

He said, “The countryside is where farmers earn their living and produce food for us all, so there is no escaping the fact cattle and sheep will be grazed there.

“It is often these activities that make landscapes like the South Downs and Sussex Weald so attractive.

“Farmers understand their duty of care and the best way to prevent accidents is to identify and minimise risk.”