5 ways for walkers to report a problem with cattle

If you’ve ever been hiking in the British countryside, you’ve probably had a brush with cattle at some time in your life. You might have had to abandon a walk because there was a bull in the field. You might have had to run to escape a group of cows. You might even have been injured.

When the danger is over, it’s tempting to shrug off the event. “These things happen.” We strongly urge you not to dismiss these incidents, even the minor ones. By telling your stories, and raising awareness of the problem, we can bring about change.

Here are 5 ways you can make a report.

1. Tell us your story, at http://www.killercows.co.uk.

Why? At Killer Cows, we are collecting statistics about cattle attacks, to prove the problem is much more common than official bodies are prepared to admit. We want to raise awareness, influence policy, change guidance, and see new regulations introduced.

We strongly urge you to consider reporting the event to official organisations as well. Below are some you could contact in England and Wales.

2. The Ramblers – the charity supporting walkers

The Ramblers run a reporting service for footpath problems, and that includes problems caused by animals. The system they use is their Pathwatch app, which you can  download and use in the field. If you prefer, the Ramblers supply the same tool online on their site. It’s not a perfect reporting system, but is a useful way of sharing the location of cattle incidents, and of raising awareness.

Go here for more information on Pathwatch reports.

3. The Health and Safety Executive – responsible for safety at work

Most walkers will not have thought of reporting a cattle incident to the Health and Safety Executive (the HSE for short). But a farm is a workplace and the HSE are responsible for the safety of farm workers and for members of the public within that workplace too.

Consider reporting more serious incidents to the HSE, especially those where an actual injury has occurred. You might also like to report an incident where there was no injury, but where you consider the risk of injury to be high. (An example of high risk might be a group of cows with newborn calves on a field crossed by a footpath.)

Farmers are asked to fill out an official RIDDOR form, but the HSE provides an online form for the public, and a telephone number you can use if you prefer.

Go here for information on making a HSE report

4. The footpath officer of the local authority

This requires two pieces of information. Firstly, you need to find out which local authority is responsible. Secondly, you need to track down the right office or officer to report to.

Which local authority? Remember, this is the local authority covering the area in which the incident happened. If you have a postcode, you can find the local authority by using the find your local council search tool on gov.uk . If you don’t have a postcode, you might like to use Fix My Street (see below).

Where’s the footpath officer? If you’re lucky, the authority’s website will have a ‘Report a Problem’ section, where you can send in a report about the state of a footpath. Or, you might need to track down the footpath officer’s email address or telephone number. They might be lurking in the Parks and Amenities section, in the Recreation section, in the Countryside and Access section, or in the Transport and Roads section. If in doubt, contact whichever department is responsible for roads and highways. They’re usually responsible for footpaths too.

Another, and even easier way, of passing on a complaint is to use the Fix My Street website, where you select an area from a map and don’t require a postcode.


5. The farmer who owns the cattle or the field

This can be difficult. There may be an obvious farm nearby, but it’s probably best not to cold call on the farmer (he/she might be busy, and there might be dogs on the loose). Noting down the name of the farm, and finding a telephone number later, might be a better tactic.

Often it’s impossible to work out who the field belongs to. One way of finding out who owns a field is use a Land Registry search. There is a small fee payable for each search.



So, there you are. Five different ways to report an incident involving cows or bulls, heifers or bullocks, or cattle of any type. Without regular reports of problems, nobody takes this problem seriously. So, help us raise awareness and don’t forget to report your own cattle incidents.

We do hope you always start with number one on the list: our very own Report an Incident form.

If you have an opinion you want to share, do let us know.

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