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Safety Tips for Hiking Near Grazing Animals

Animals grazing in the parks come with some trade-offs for our visitors. In the rainy season, the passage of cattle can cause damage to sections of trail, making the ground muddy, pocked, and unpleasant to walk through. Like all other animals, cows produce manure, so visitors must watch their step. And, though it is rare, there have been some incidents of cattle head-butting people in the parks.

Cattle are large animals but are not aggressive by nature. However, if aggravated or threatened, cattle can respond in a potentially dangerous manner. Use common sense around cattle and remember the following:

  • Try not to startle the cows. Keep your distance and walk around groups of cows.
  • Not all animals with horns are bulls, nor are they naturally inclined to charge you.
  • Cows are protective of their young, so don't get between a calf and its mother, and don't try to touch them. If you see a stray calf, leave it alone -- its mother is probably nearby. Walk around the cattle as much as possible.
  • Don't approach or touch stray calves. Most likely the cow had gone off to graze, and will return for her calf.
  • Keep pets under control or on leash. Cows can't always distinguish between a dog and coyote and may become agitated as the dog approaches. Loose, barking dogs can easily harass or injure livestock.
  • If you see an animal in distress, do not attempt to intervene; rather, note the location of the animal and report it to park personnel.

Safety in the Parks and on the Trails

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