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Walkers in East Sussex, particularly those walking with dogs, are being warned to take care this summer when they come into contact with cows.
Although there have been no fatalities in East Sussex, thankfully, there have been incidents of cow attacks and most have involved walkers with dogs.
So, the County Council is reminding people 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 some advice for walkers:
* 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 hang onto your dog. If you are threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle will chase the dog
* Don’t get between cows and their calves. 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.
Councillor Carl Maynard, Lead Cabinet Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at East Sussex County Council, said: “Thankfully serious incidents involving walkers and cattle are very rare. However, we would always recommend walkers follow this advice to keep themselves as safe as possible. We would also encourage people to consider taking a mobile phone when out walking on the paths in East Sussex so they can call for help if they need to.”
Malcolm McDonnell, East Sussex Footpath Secretary for The Ramblers, said: “Our beautiful East Sussex countryside is working farmland, which helps form its character and make it such a pleasure to walk in. Fortunately attacks by cattle are few and far between, but with any working environment there are certain risks. We would urge everyone 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.”
And John Archer, Regional Adviser for the National Farmers Union says 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 that cattle and sheep will be grazed there. Indeed it is often these activities that make landscapes like the South Downs and the Sussex Weald so attractive. Farmers understand their duty of care and that the best way to prevent accidents is to identify and minimise risk. They are also encouraged to display signs explaining to walkers how to avoid cattle-related incidents and especially how to manage dogs in the presence of livestock. We are grateful to The Ramblers for working with us to ensure that users of rural rights of way can continue to enjoy the countryside safely.”