Deadly cows prompt law change for hikers in Austria | News | DW | 12.03.2019
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Deadly cows prompt law change for hikers in Austria

Austria is planning new policies to protect farmers after a woman hiker was killed by cows frightened by her dog. Farmers have been critical of a court decision ordering a farmer to compensate the woman's family.

Hikers roaming Austria's picturesque Alpine pastures will have to follow a "code of conduct," the government said Monday, after a German tourist was trampled to death by cows.

"We will lay out clearly in the code of conduct what is expected of people who use mountain pastures," Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a press conference in Vienna.

Read more: German city seizes pug, sells it on eBay

The incident happened in 2014 in Tyrol when cows felt so threatened by a German hiker's dog that they killed the woman. Austrian farmers have been enraged by an Innsbruck court ruling last month ordering the farmer who owned the cattle to pay hundreds of thousands of euros in damages to the 45-year-old woman's family for neglecting to fence in the cows.

"We don't want mountain pastures to be completely fenced off or closed. We therefore have to inform people about the behavior of wild and farm animals," Sustainability and Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger said.

Mother cows sometimes feel they need to defend their calves against dogs.

Hikers are advised to release their dogs from a leash when cows charge. In the German woman's case she had the dog leash tied to her waist.

Kurz did not specify what measures the government would take, but said it would involve telling hikers how to handle dogs.

"We expect that if people stick to this code of conduct, there will be no incidents. If someone does not stick to the code of conduct, then they will lose the chance to claim damages," Kurz said.

Watch video 02:36

Alpine animals in Winter

cw/aw (dpa, Reuters)

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