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Ashbourne walkers: action taken to ensure safety among cows

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: May 22, 2014

Ashbourne walkers: action taken to ensure safety among cows

Ashbourne walkers: action taken to ensure safety among cows

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THE Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it is working with the owner of cattle that killed a holiday-maker and, a few hours later, injured a walker to ensure the accidents do not happen again.

The HSE is carrying out an investigation in to the death of Peter Jakeman, 62, who was on holiday in Upper Mayfield, near Ashbourne on Wednesday last week when he, his wife and his two dogs were caught in a “stampede” of cattle.

His wife escaped with a chest injury but Mr Jakeman, from Cornwall, died after being airlifted to hospital for treatment.

Later that day, at around noon, Robert Tatler, 68, from Idridgehay was walking through a nearby field with two dogs when he was attacked by a herd of cows who, he claims, ignored the dogs and “went for him”.

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Mr Tatler spent four days in hospital recovering from the attack and the two accidents, on land owned by the Okeover Estate, have prompted calls by walking charity The Ramblers for the cows to be moved out of the fields.

A spokesman for the HSE said: “As part of our investigations, we are discussing appropriate steps with the farmer which he can take to minimise the risk to members of the public accessing the land in question.”

The Ramblers, a national charity which represents more than 100,000 members and campaigns for walkers' rights, says the farmer must now act to move the cattle out of any fields which have footpaths crossing them.

Paul Cook, group secretary of Ashbourne NFU, which has been working with the farmer, Richard Toon, from Lower Grounds Farm, said: “We have met with the HSE and have been discussing possible alternatives.

“The farmer has done everything he can, the cattle have been moved and every single footpath entering his fields says ‘be aware, cows with calves’. The signs were put up on Friday.”

Janet Davis, senior policy officer at the Ramblers, said: “Our sympathies go out to the family of Peter Jakeman.

“Although we are not aware of the specific details of the incident, we are always deeply saddened to hear of the death of a walker.

"Though they do happen, attacks by farm animals are rare and thousands of walkers enjoy trips to the countryside without incident every year.

"However, the countryside is also a working environment, and it’s important to be mindful of that.

“The Health and Safety Executive state that farmers must carry out a risk assessment when keeping cattle in a field with a public footpath passing through it, in order to help ensure the public’s safety.

"The HSE say if you have an animal known or suspected to be aggressive, then it should not be kept in a field that is used by the public.

“In this particular case, because the herd caused the death of a walker and attacked another, in line with the HSE advice, we would call for the herd to be moved to a field that does not have a footpath passing through it.”

Mr Tatler, who had followed countryside advice and let his two dogs go when he saw the cattle in the field, said: “I'm not unforgiving about the cows but I do worry that it could happen again while they're still in the field.

"I think they shouldn't be in a field where there's a footpath or there should at least be a sign up to warn people they're dangerous cattle. It's not as if the dogs were bothering them at all, it was me they went for.

"I'd imagine they were being protective but I'm just concerned that it wasn't one attack, I was attacked twice and they came at me out of nowhere - it's not as if I was walking towards them."

A spokesman for the National Farmer’s Union said shortly after the attacks that it would be difficult for the farmer, Richard Toon, to move the cows as all his fields were criss-crossed with footpaths.

On the Saturday after Mr Jakeman was killed and Mr Tatler was injured a 70-year-old man was airlifted from a field in Baslow after being injured in a field of cows. He was flown to a hospital in Sheffield but his condition is not yet known.

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