European Wilderness Society

Start of hiking season: Prepare for cows!

A hiker and a farmer were stampeded to death by cows in Germany in 2014.
Those were only the most tragic cases of the nearly 10.200 accidents with cows/cattle involved in 2013, which the german insurance company for agriculture (SVLG) received for that year. Overall, four ended fatal.

For comparison: In the past 50 years in whole Europe 4 humans were killed by wolves (NINA. The fear of wolves. A review of wolf attacks on humans)

Main reason is lack of knowledge resulting in mistakes in human-animal-communication.

In general, cows are peaceful animals, but working with them or encounter them in an unexpected situation, can lead to dangerous situations.
Even the former Ministry for Agriculture was  perilous insured by a steer.

But also Hikers crossing alpine meadows can get into dangerous situations.

In Austria, a hiker was killed by a herd of cows, presumably the animals felt threatened by her dog and wanted to protect their caves. Another hiker was perilous insured and had to be brought to hospital by helicopter.

Cows mainly attack humans when feeling threatened, stressed or in urge to protect their calves

The bavarian farmers association recommend hikers:

  • keep enough distance to the cows
  • stay calm, do not run
  • in the absolute case of need, take a stick and slap the cow on its nose
  • retreat out of the area in a slow and calm way

Striking similar to the recommendations for a wolf or bear.

2 thoughts on “Start of hiking season: Prepare for cows!

  • Having spent half my working life with cattle, I have often seen the “stupid” reactions of people who are not used to being with large animals. Not only do they inadvertently put themselves in danger, they also cause problems for farmers.

    Cattle and horses are curious. They want to know what you are, so they try to sniff you and push you about to find out more.

    Cattle and horses also think that if you are running, you want to play and therefore they run too. Unfortunately their games also involve pushing and kicking.

    They do not realise that they are bigger, they do not understand that you do not want to play.

  • It is really hard for me to not laugh about this. Sorry, I know these deaths are tragic. But cows…..

    Be careful out there folks!

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