Why do cows attack?
And, I don’t mean your mother-in-law (or, that vapid events coordinator your fraternity brother married).
The BBC often finds itself reporting such stories as this:
A fortnight ago a cow left David Blunkett with a black eye and cracked rib. Now a vet walking her dogs has been trampled to death by cattle. Why?
With its limpid eyes and slow gait, the cow is generally a placid creature. But apparently once this gentle giant – typically weighing about 1000lbs (450kg) – has a calf to protect (or senses one of them professional cow tippers), it’s best to steer (pun intended) clear.
Liz Crowsley, a vet, has been trampled to death by a herd of cattle while walking the Pennine Way with her two dogs. And a fortnight ago, a cow left David Blunkett with a black eye and a cracked rib. Also on a walking holiday, the former home secretary was accompanied by his guide dog Sadie.
While such attacks are rare, Health and Safety Executive figures show that eighteen (18) people – excluding the, otherwise, hapless Ms. Crowsley – have been killed and four hundred and eighty one (481) injured by cows in the past eight years.
Spring and early summer are when cows feel most vulnerable to interlopers, but they can be spooked into reacting at any time of year, says Sharon Woods of the Ramblers’ Association.
“We hear of one or two incidents each week, but these don’t usually involve serious injuries.”
Farmers and vets on call-outs are also at risk.
Keep calm, carry on
Because generally it is a four-legged threat the cows are trying to see off. But the dog’s owner may be caught up in the attack if the dog cannot, will not, run away, and instead tries to hide behind its human.
While Mr Blunkett let go of Sadie and she shot off, he stumbled to the ground and the cow fell over too.
“She hit my side and broke my rib. Had her full weight of around a tonne hit me, I’d have been a gonner.”
Those without canine companions should follow similar advice: move away calmly, do not panic, and make no sudden noises. Chances are the cows will leave you alone once they establish that you pose no threat.
NOTE: The National Farmers’ Union also recommends that walkers avoid crossing fields.
“Cows are quite docile animals, but can get nervous,” says Ms Woods. And at five feet tall and weighing at least 1000 pounds, it wouldn’t do to make a cow too nervous.
All of this raises numerous, possibly endless, questions. But, only if you are situationally aware of the way things work.
There are unsettling rumors of nefarious happenings, for example, in Kentucky, possibly under the influence of that smoking rabbit. This might include efforts around an attack bovine (cow) facility managed by Betty “pickles” Merlotte, a former Miss Kentucky.
Apparently there is an emerging theory around cows as attack and guard animals. Literal “engines of destruction” if trained properly. Awkward facts that include they are slow-moving, slow-witted and weak-legged critters, with a high center of gravity and sleep standing up notwithstanding.
“well… No one else was doing it. So I figured it might just catch on. I mean cows can get pretty darn mean if riled. Sorta like my mother-in-law on a Thursday night when there ain’t no bingo over at the abandoned middle school and the McDonalds is closed for fumigation.” – Betty Merlotte
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork