Encountering cows on alpine pastures

Correct behaviour when encountering cows – for a pleasant hiking experience in any situation.

Encounters with pasture animals are always a possibility when hiking in the mountains and across alpine pastures. These may prove to be dangerous situations. Known cases, although rare, highlight the need for certain caution when hiking on alpine pastures and other open grazing areas. To avoid dangerous situations, please heed the advice and be aware of the main behaviour patterns of alpine pasture animals. Dangerous situations especially occur when hikers are out and about with their dogs and encounter a herd of cows.

Guidelines for the correct behaviour: 

  • Do not leave hiking trails on alpine pastures!
  • Please keep your dog under control and on a leash!
  • Walk calmly and without attracting attention past the animals in safe distance (20 - 50 metres).
  • Do not startle the animals and do not look the animals directly in the eyes.
  • Leave the animals alone and do not touch them. Never touch calves!
  • Watch out for threatening gestures of the animals: lowering the head, pawing the ground, lowering, snorting.
  • When the animals approach: keep calm, don’t turn your back and leave the alpine pasture slowly!
  • Take your dog off the leash immediately when an attack by an animal is imminent.
  • Don’t wave around with the stick. In an absolute emergency, strike the cow’s nose with a stick.