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Austria plans hikers code of conduct after tourist trampled by cows

Reuters logo Reuters 3/11/2019
a herd of cattle grazing on a lush green field: FILE PHOTO: A group of Simmental cattle graze on a farm near Seckau © Reuters/Leonhard Foeger FILE PHOTO: A group of Simmental cattle graze on a farm near Seckau

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday the country would introduce a legally binding "code of conduct" for hikers who visit its picturesque mountain pastures in response to the death of a German tourist who was trampled by cows.

The incident which took place in Tyrol in 2014 has made national headlines and a court last month ordered the farmer who owned the cattle to pay hundreds of thousands of euros in damages to the 45-year-old victim's family.

Sebastian Kurz wearing a suit and tie: Austria's Chancellor Kurz and Social Minister Hartinger-Klein address the media in Vienna © Reuters/LEONHARD FOEGER Austria's Chancellor Kurz and Social Minister Hartinger-Klein address the media in Vienna

That has caused outrage among farmers and consternation among the public, partly because the victim was walking her dog on a leash attached to her waist. Cows can charge to protect their calves when they see dogs, and hikers are advised to release their dogs in such cases, which she did not do.

Sebastian Kurz and woman posing for a picture: Austria's Chancellor Kurz and Agriculture Minister Koestinger address the media in Vienna © Reuters/LEONHARD FOEGER Austria's Chancellor Kurz and Agriculture Minister Koestinger address the media in Vienna

"We will lay out clearly in the code of conduct what is expected of people who use mountain pastures," Kurz told a news conference.

Kurz did not provide specifics but did suggest that dogs would be an important part of the new code, adding that problem cases have "almost exclusively" involved dogs.

The code is part of a package of measures being worked on, including changing the law covering such incidents.

"We expect that if people stick to this code of conduct, there will be no incidents. If someone does not stick to the code of conduct, then they will lose the chance to claim damages," Kurz said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Jason Neely)

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