Cut fence allows cattle to roam

By Toby Leigh in Environment

A runaway herd of cattle almost ended up in Totnes town centre after vandals cut fencing, allowing the animals to escape from their Dart­ington field.

The eight-strong herd of Galloway cattle was heading down a green lane which feeds into Barracks Hill and the town’s Western Bypass, when it was spotted by a member of the public.

They alerted young farmer Ross Birbeck at around midday last Friday and he managed to get the animals back into their field.

A spokesman for Dart­ington Hall Trust, which owns the land where the cattle are kept, said: ‘Some of the cows on the estate almost paid Totnes High Street a visit this afternoon as someone cut through the wire fence which keeps them in their field.

‘Now that might sound like fun but just imagine the moment when around the corner of a country road cow and car meet. Imagine what that could mean for the cow and the car driver, their passengers, a pedestrian standing nearby.

‘Evidently someone is really keen to walk through this field, which is across the road from Peek Plantation, and doesn’t feel simple things like a barbed-wire fence or the fact that there isn’t a permitted footpath through the field should be allowed to get in their way.

‘We would ask this person, or persons, to please think more widely about the consequences of their actions and abstain from cutting through fences.

‘There are a lot of permissive footpaths on the estate, which don’t have fences across them – or if they do there’s probably a gate. You are very welcome to use any one of those footpaths.’

For some years the Dartington estate has suffered vandal attacks from people – possibly dog walkers – cutting fences to gain access to parts of the estate.

There have also been incidents of sheep worrying on the estate where animals have been injured and killed by dogs.

The fence last Friday was cut between the Copland C field and a British Forestry Stewardship biomass fuel site on land north of Copland Meadows.

The spokesman added: ‘The fences surrounding the biomass trial, which started approximately seven years ago, have been cut for years.’

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