The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

After fatal cow attack: farmer does not have to pay

In the legal dispute over a fatal cow attack in Austria, the Innsbruck Higher Regional Court (OLG) has now finally rejected the claims for damages made by the surviving dependants.

This means that the alpine pasture farmer does not have to pay the 80,000 euros (around 75,000 Swiss francs) plus interest imposed by the court of first instance to the husband, daughter and granddaughter of the deceased, the defendant's lawyers and a court spokesperson announced on Thursday. In its decision, the Higher Regional Court stated that pasture and alpine pasture areas do not necessarily have to be fenced off unless there have already been incidents with the animals in the past. In addition, there would have been an alternative route secured by a fence in this case anyway.

Victim wanted to photograph animals

The 70-year-old local woman and her dog were trampled to death by cows in 2017 in Erl, Tyrol (Kufstein district). On her way back from an alpine pasture, the dog owner had decided to walk through open alpine terrain. On the alpine meadow, she came across mother cows and their calves, which, according to photos, were lying there peacefully at first, a court spokesperson continued. It was only when the woman and her dog approached the animals to take a photo that the cows became aggressive. The 70-year-old fell as she fled and was run over.

Case from 2014 with attack on Germans was different

The OLG ruling contrasts with a ruling in the Pinnistal valley in Tyrol. There, a 45-year-old German woman and her dog were attacked and killed by cows in 2014. The OLG found both the victim and the farmer partially responsible. Among other things, the court argued that the farmer was aware that his mother cows reacted sensitively and aggressively to dogs.

Different reactions

The President of the Tyrolean Chamber of Agriculture, Josef Hechenberger, welcomed the court's decision "despite the tragic circumstances". This was a landmark decision for the mountain pasture industry. The OLG spokesman explained: "This is an individual case decision. It always depends on the circumstances. The ruling is not a kind of clean bill of health for either farmers or hikers."


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