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Swiss army ends 31-day cow rescue mission

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Caroline Bishop - [email protected]
Swiss army ends 31-day cow rescue mission
Photo: Caroline Bishop

The Swiss army has concluded its mission to airlift water to thirsty cows in the Jura and Vaud Alps after delivering 1,840 tons of water during the period of July 20th to August 19th, authorities have said.

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Four Super Puma helicopters and 120 military personnel were involved in the operation, which began after a sustained period of extremely hot weather critically reduced the amount of water available to cows grazing in alpine pastures.

Figures released to news agency ATS by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) show that during the 31-day mission the helicopters spent 254 hours collecting water from lakes in the Jura to fill eight specially constructed water reservoirs, two in the Joux valley and six at higher altitude.

The army carried out a similar operation in the cantons of Fribourg and St Gallen.

In total, some 20,000 cows were thought to be at risk.

At the end of July the mission suffered a minor diplomatic incident when the Swiss army took water from lakes in the French Jura without permission from the French authorities.

The embarrassing incident resulted after Switzerland “misinterpreted” a communication from Paris over the issue.

Swiss cows graze at altitude in alpine pastures for three to four months each year, usually descending to valley farms during September and October.

The cows drink around 100-150 litres of water a day.

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