Marilyn Duffy, 61, was walking her dog through a farmer’s field. It’s believed the cows were frightened by the dog and attacked. Cows are calving at this time of year and can become easily frightened by dogs or even lone people. Farmers say it’s best to give cows a wide berth and if they come at you and your dog to let your dog go. The cows will generally chase after the dog and the dog can easily get away.
Since many public footpaths in the UK pass through farmers’ fields, this incident serves as a warning for walkers planning on enjoying the countryside.
I myself was nearly attacked by cows. While hiking the Hadrian’s Wall Path two years ago, the path took me over a stile into a field and up a low rise. When I get to the top I saw a large herd of cows and their calves standing not twenty yards away. The rise had hidden them from view until I was almost upon them.
The biggest one started bawling with a noise that sounded like a mixture of a moo and a roar. I backed away as the cows lined up between me and the calves. More of the herd started mooing angrily and cows from other parts of the field started converging on me. I moved quickly but calmly away, which is the best thing to do with an angry animal that isn’t actually attacking. They held their ground, still braying, and the rest of the herd joined them to make a long line facing me. Even after I got a couple of hundred yards away they still turned their line to face me as I went the long way around the field. If they had moved closer, I would have hopped the fence, even though it had barbed wire on it.
At the other end of the field was another stile with a sign saying, “COWS WITH CALVES. ENTER WITH CAUTION”. Farmers are supposed to put up signs like this, but they’re supposed to put them up on all entrances to their fields. It’s not clear from the news reports if the field where Marilyn Duffy was killed had warning signs.
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]