London: Cows have emerged as one of Britain's "most dangerous" large animals with cattle accounting for 74 deaths in the past 15 years, according to UK Health and Safety Executive figures.
The figures given by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the animals, which can weigh more than a tonne, typically crush, butt or trample victims to death, with walkers targeted as they stroll on public footpaths through fields where cows are grazing.
Eighteen of those killed were ramblers and 56 were farm workers.
"Cattle have become Britain's most dangerous large animal, killing 74 people in the past 15 years," The Sunday Times reported citing HSE figures.
Cows are far more lethal than dogs, which caused 17 deaths between 2005 and 2013. The figures have prompted the HSE to issue new advice to farmers, telling them cattle should never be kept in fields with public footpaths.
"As 70 per cent of these deaths involved either a bull or newly calved cow, activities with these...Stock should be very carefully planned," a report from the HSE's agriculture advisory committee said.
It follows the death of Mike Porter, 66, a retired medical lecturer at Edinburgh University who was trampled to death in May 2013 while walking through fields on Timothy Rise Farm near Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.
The HSE is considering whether to prosecute Brian Godwin, the farmer who owned the animals, after hearing it was the fourth such attack on his land.
Godwin said he had put safety measures in place after the earlier incidents.
David Billington, 51, was trampled by cows on the farm in October 2011, suffering two broken vertebrae. "Until the death of Mike Porter, not enough had been done to protect the public," he was quoted as saying.
In a separate incident Richard Wayne, from Derby, was knocked down, trampled and crushed by a cow as he followed a footpath across a field near the village of Flash in the Peak District where he was on a caravan holiday in August.
Cows can be easily spooked because they have poor hearing and depth of vision, which means they cannot focus on objects. Cows that have gone on the attack when they felt under threat can repeat the tactic if similar circumstances arise again.