Far from being docile creatures, cows can be aggressive, especially if they are protecting their calves.
Last month a walker suffered broken ribs and vertebrae in an attack by a herd of cows in the canton of Jura.
Fatal attacks are, thankfully, rare. In 2015 a German tourist was killed by cattle when out walking in the Laax area of Graubünden, prompting the authorities to put up warning signs.
To help avoid further injury, the Blick newspaper has compiled a list of helpful tips on crossing meadows safely.
The Swiss advisory service for agricultural accident prevention BUL recommends walkers avoid:
– wearing very bright or garishly coloured clothing
– making loud noises or high-pitched sounds
– taking a dog with you, as dogs are seen as a threat
– looking the cow in the eye and sustained eye contact.
The BUL also offers advice to hikers who find themselves at risk of attack:
– back away slowly but do not avert your gaze
– use a walking stick to defend yourself if attacked
– if you have a dog, let it off the lead. The cow will concentrate on the dog instead of you.
The advisory service says the main piece of advice is to always keep quiet when crossing meadows and to observe the behaviour of the herd.
You should also keep as far away from the animals as possible.