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Austria to release 'code of conduct' on how hikers should act around grazing cows

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Austria to release 'code of conduct' on how hikers should act around grazing cows
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REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
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Austria’s picturesque Alpine countryside is a tourism hotspot for hiking aficionados but the scenic region is not without its dangers.

In 2014, the case of a German tourist who was trampled by cows in the region of Tyrol made national headlines. Last month a court ordered the owner of the cattle to pay hundreds of thousands of euros in damages to the victim's family.

The ruling caused a stir among farmers and the public because the tourist was reportedly walking with her dog on a lead around her waist and did not let the dog go when the cow attacked.

While they are usually placid animals, cows can charge at people or animals who threaten their calves. Existing guidelines already advise hikers to let go of their dogs if a cow charges at them.

To avoid future accidents between resident cows and visitors, the Austrian government will introduce a “code of conduct” that tourists will need to follow when visiting the Alpine pastures.

"It's about the successful coexistence of agriculture and tourism on Austria's pastures. We want to strengthen this cooperation with the action plan as well the responsibility that all visitors to our natural landscapes feel for themselves, " Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at a press conference on Monday.

The “Action Plan for Safe Alpine Pastures" by the Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism will address questions such as how to behave in the presence of grazing livestock, information on safe distances to keep from the animals, and how to walk with dogs in pastures.

Kurz did not give any specific details concerning the guidelines but did mention that there will be rules on visiting the region with dogs since they were "almost exclusively" involved in all accidents.

"With the code of conduct, we are creating clear and uniform rules for visiting pastures for the first time," said tourism minister Elisabeth Köstinger.

Kurz said those who did not follow the new rules would lose the chance to claim for damages.

German media reports said the code of conduct should be ready in time for the beginning of this year's tourism high season.