Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Walkers Warned over Wild Cattle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Walkers Warned over Wild Cattle

Article excerpt

Walkers have been warned that their "right to roam" will not be respected by one group of Northumberland residents.

Moorland belonging to the Chillingham Wild Cattle Park near Wooler, Northumberland, is featured on a map being considered by the Countryside Agency as part of a bid to open up large tracts of the landscape to walkers.

Last night ramblers were warned they could be risking serious injury or even death a from the animals who do not appreciate visitors to their 300-acre home .

The ancient breed of white bovines, one of the oldest living families of cattle, have been kept in isolation since the animals were first herded there more than 700 years ago.

Quarantined away from other cattle, their roaming ground is protected by forest and ringed by an eight-foot high wall.

But that could be under threat from revisions to the Rights of Way Act, currently being examined by the Government, which would throw open a swathe of heather moor within the boundaries of the existing park.

Not only could it threaten the integrity of the herd, say its guardians, but ramblers unaware of the herd's unpredictable nature could be in extreme danger if they venture too close.

"There is considerable risk factor in allowing unrestricted public access to the park because the cattle are wild and could cause considerable injury if provoked," said Lord James Joicey, a local landowner and member of the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association.

"These cattle have been known to stampede if they are spooked, even by deer in the park, which could be extremely dangerous to anyone within range.

"We have written to the Countryside Agency to protest, because we feel it is vital to control access to the park and the cattle, also in terms of biosecurity.

"This is the last population of its type in the world, and we have a duty to maintain that."

Last night a spokesman for the Countryside Agency said the proposals were still under review and that any decisions would be subject to a consultation process involving all interested parties. …

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