AN AGRICULTURAL expert is warning walkers and farmers across the region to stay vigilant in the vicinity of livestock and their young this summer, to avoid endangering lives and jeopardising livelihoods.
Freddie Hamilton-Russell, of rural insurance broker Lycetts, is urging the public and farmers to take steps to protect themselves, ramblers and livestock, as the trend for countryside walking sets to continue post-lockdown.
Government figures show by summer 2020, 39 per cent of people were walking more than before the pandemic struck, with 94 per cent claiming they would continue once travel restrictions were removed.
Mr Hamilton-Russell is urging the public to follow the recently updated Countryside Code, particularly as livestock are now being sent out to pasture with their young, and for farmers to take precautions to keep the public and livestock separate and safe.
He said: “It’s important for people to remember that much of the countryside is working land and that their actions impact the lives and livelihoods of others – along with their own safety.
“As well as being courteous to those who farm the local land, it is important to be fully aware of the risks that come with visiting the countryside.
“Even the most placid farm animals can become dangerous when they are stressed, with adverse weather, illness, disturbance, or maternal instincts just some of the triggers. Farmers understand and recognise signs of stress – but many members of the public don’t.”
He added every year people were seriously and, sometimes, fatally injured by livestock and walkers should not underestimate the animals, particularly at this time of year when cattle have calves and protective maternal instincts were at play.
People should use maps to plan ahead, read signs to help find their way, use marked paths, gates and stiles and ensure they do not trespass into fields where livestock are kept.
Dogs should be kept on leads and kept away from animals at all times.