I’m not fond of cattle. Not when they’re on my side of the fence. They’re big and scary. But anyone who walks in the countryside knows we have to put up with the creatures and I’ve tried to reduce my anxiety by thinking about how unlikely it is to be hurt by one of them.
Cows do, however, kill 5 or 6 people every year in the UK. Most of the deaths are farm workers, which is bad enough, but sometimes walkers are killed too. And for every person killed, many more are seriously injured.
In January 2016, a study was published by the BMJ journal Injury Prevention, ‘Are cattle dangerous to walkers? A scoping review’. This discovered 54 reported attacks on walkers in the UK countryside during the past 20 years, 13 of which were fatal. Dogs were involved in 2/3 of cattle attacks. Which, of course, means that 1/3 of attacks involve walkers without dogs.
Sometimes a farmer is prosecuted when a walker is killed by his cattle and, occasionally, the prosecution is successful. For example, in 2016 Farmer Brian Godwin was fined £30,000 for “being in breech of his general duty of controlling livestock” and given a 12 month suspended sentence. Only his age (83) saved him from imprisonment. You might consider his punishment lenient, seeing as the same herd of cattle had attacked walkers on 4 previous occasions. Source: The Telegraph 6th Dec 2016.
I’ve decided to collect stories of cow attacks in the UK, using the Google Alert facility and random internet searches. If you know of any recent reports not listed below, please let me know. Dates in red indicate fatalities.
May 2017: Carol Green, knocked down and bruised by cows, Essex.
May 2017: Jacqui Beale, seriously injured by 8 cows, Derbyshire
1st June 2017: Saffron Anderson, trampled and injured, Isle of White.
4th June 2017: Woman seriously injured by cow, Manchester.
12th June 2017: Brian Bellhouse, killed walking in a field in East Sussex.
4th March 2016: Farmer, Kerr Sands, attacked by cow, Balbeggie, Scotland.
March 2016: Cow attack witnessed in TripAdvisor review, Gribbin Head, Cornwall.
3rd April 2016: Marian Clode killed by cow, Belford, Northumberland.
19th May 2016: Woman feared her husband was killed, Tutbury, Staffordshire.
10th June 2016: Two dog walkers injured in Sussex
13th June 2016: A ‘hormonal’ cow attacking women in colourful clothing in Cambridge.
20th June 2016: Thomas Macfarlane, farm worker, killed by cattle. HSE statistics
August 2016: Mike Pace, trampled and left with serious leg injuries. Abersoch, Wales.