Posted: 26.05.20 at 08:58 by Philip Evans
AXMINSTER county councillor Ian Hall has appealed to residents taking walks in the countryside to behave more responsibly following an incident in which a pregnant cow suffered a miscarriage due to fright and died.
The incident happen on private land at Whitebridges, Axminster, where police received reports of youths with a dog chasing cows.
The cow was heavily pregnant a died as a result.
Police received reports on a further incident on May 15 when a group of teenagers were chasing cows in a field on Castle Hill.
Police are advising people who witness such incidents to call 999.
Cllr Hall has been asked by concerned local farmers to draw attention to unacceptable behaviour by some of those who use pubic designated footpaths across farm land.
Cllr Hall said: “They appreciate that the majority of Axminster residents enjoy the public footpaths along the river at White Bridges. However the land owner has been in direct contact with me, saying that whilst he acknowledges most people are respectful of the cattle and keep their dogs on leads, a small minority are behaving in a manner that is going to force him to shut the footpath. They are trespassing on private land, not sticking to the permitted paths.
“Animals are being chased, hit, having stones thrown at them, dogs are chasing the animals and worrying them and causing distress, consequently leading to miscarriages.
“These animals are heavily pregnant. The landowner has already had one of these beautiful pregnant animals murdered by teenagers for their own pleasure.”
Cllr Hall concluded: “Please be mindful of your actions and please keep your dogs on leads. If these selfish people do not change the landowner will have no choice but to shut this path".
Cllr Hall was invited onto BBC Radio Devon this morning (Tuesday) to speak about the incident.
He said: "I’ve had many conversations with the farmer and his wife about the incredible stress levels and anxiety that has actually been caused by this unfortunate and unnecessary situation.
"On days like today, when the sun is shining, it draws out people and, let’s be frank about it, we’re all individually and collectively going through an incredible amount off change at the moment.
"Because of lockdown we’ve had more and more people using our footpaths in the area, which is absolutely wonderful and the majority of the people are respecting the laws of the land and the farmers’ fields.
"We have the beautiful River Axe in Axminster which is naturally a draw for people to go down with their dogs and for people to get out in the countryside, but it is becoming a very, very nervous time when the sun’s out because it draws some people down here.
It’s only a very small majority of people because Axminster is a wonderful town, beautiful with a wonderful community spirit.
"I don’t think people understand what they are doing and the ramifications of this. I sincerely believe if people knew that by chasing a cow it would ultimately die and lose an unborn calf people wouldn’t do it, but I think it’s a case of them not knowing what the ramifications of their actions could be.
"He will be forced to shut it; he knows the law about shutting a public right of way, which he is not able to do unless there is a safety issue, but they’re trying to protect their livelihood.
"People need to respect the countryside, by all means go out and enjoy the beautiful area, but when you are there please keep dogs on leads. It doesn’t matter how good you feel your dog is around cattle, we need to set a precedent that all dogs should be on leads.
"And all people that want to use the footpaths, please respect the cattle, don’t throw anything. If you see anyone behaving in an aggressive or unacceptable manner, please contact the police. "