Letters: It’s time to ban pregnant cows from the Forest

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SIR — It would appear from your front page that the Commoners Defence Association (CDA) are “keen to do their bit” by dehorning cattle due to the spate of incidents in which people and pets have been hurt by cows.

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It makes a welcome change from the “isolated incident considering the multi-thousand Forest visitors” that I usually see espoused and yet again the plea for better educating the public.

They conveniently have overlooked that most of the recent attacks have been from isolated cows with mixed-up hormones having just given birth and believe they are protecting their new born calves by attacking anyone that inadvertently comes within their space.

These have been turned out by a minority of irresponsible commoners when it is well known that they can be dangerous.

Also the victims have all been local, and hence not visitors, and are well aware the dangers of getting too near livestock especially with young.

The most recent goring and hospitalisation of Amelia Borelli at Fritham (A&T, 9th August) was very similar to that of my wife last year near Bolton’s Bench when a previously unseen cow charged out of bushes and knocked her into a bramble bush and proceeded to gore and trample on her. She did not get between the cow and her calf, as was suggested.

As with Mrs Borelli she also thought she was about to die and if it had not been for the prompt rescue of a local café owner and a visitor in his 4×4 driving at the bellowing cow the situation could have been much worse.

Even so, she suffered multiple cuts and abrasions, severe bruising to her ribs, a large haematoma on her thigh and both bones above her left wrist shattered.

She had to wait eight very uncomfortable eight days for the trauma team and specialist surgeon to operate and secure all the bone shards to two large metal plates. Although fully healed now, she will never have the full use of her wrist again.

The ambulance medics, whilst stemming the bleeding and fixing a temporary splint, had to wait for an agister to attend to identify and capture the cow and calf. Apparently it also knocked him to the ground as well.

The whole time the cow was mauling my wife, our blind terrier rescue dog was still on her lead but the cow left her alone – scotching another belief that dogs were the prime targets.

The increase in attacks is probably proportional to the inevitable increase in cattle turned out on the Forest by commoners wishing to avail of the generous EU subsidy per head which the verderers intend to reduce next year due to overgrazing and ground poaching.

We have observed well over 100 cattle on and around the visitor attraction of Bolton’s Bench this summer together with the attendant flies and cow pats for the visitors to negotiate.

The answer to these cow attacks must be so obvious even to the defensive and blinkered CDA and verderers (who are mostly made up of commoners).

Nobody denies their 900-plus years of right to graze, but the irresponsible turn out of pregnant cows about to give birth by a commoner minority and so endangering the public must be stopped.

It was incorrectly claimed that my wife was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The truth is that the cow was in the wrong place at the wrong time as she had been deliberately turned out.

It is difficult to believe, but three weeks ago a cow gave birth outside our gate and then abandoned the calf. Fortunately our neighbours rushed to its assistance, rubbed it down and got it up on its very wobbly legs and, after a long wait, the same owner came to collect it. The irresponsibility still prevails!

So commoners and verderers – if you truly wish to “do your bit” to curb these incidents I suggest you get your own ancient house in order and keep imminent-birth cows in until their danger period is over before you return to your usual defence of blaming the public.

Tim Withall
Lyndhurst.

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