With more people visiting the countryside as part of a staycation or using outdoor spaces to exercise their dogs, the Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team are warning people to take care.
Over recent weeks there have been reports of cows chasing and trampling members of the public. An alarming situation to find yourself in so what can you do?
The National Farmers Union offers walkers the following advice:
- Cattle, especially young stock, are inquisitive and will often follow walkers. But it is cows, who feel naturally very protective of their calves, that can be more than inquisitive
- Do not panic if you are followed, walk calmly and quickly away from the herd
- If you are walking with your family dog on a footpath and find that there are cattle on the path, avoid going straight through them
- Take a wide detour and walk calmly around the animals with your dog on a lead
- Do not walk between a cow and her calf
- If the cattle move towards you and you feel threatened by them, release your dog from the lead (dogs generally run faster than cattle) and walk quickly but calmly, to safety.
- Not put cattle that are considered to be dangerous in fields accessed by the public
- Put signage up to warn the public of possible dangers
- Install Segregation Fencing near to public footpaths.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), between March 2000 and March 2021 cattle have killed 98 people in the UK. 22 were members of the public and the rest were farmers or farm workers.
PC Emily Thomas of the Rural Crime Team said: “We don’t have a huge problem with cattle incidents in Wiltshire, but we do wish to make people aware of the possible dangers and help keep them safe. Most members of the public who are involved in incidents with cattle were on footpaths and usually had a dog with them; frequently there were calves involved and the cows were protecting them. Although we advise to keep dogs on a lead when there is livestock around it is best to release your dog if it is being threatened by cows. Cattle are most likely to chase the dog rather than the owner.”
For more helpful information to help you get the most from your leisure time in the countryside, download the Countryside Code.