Lockdown ‘could see fewer cattle deaths’ on Gloucestershire commons

112246081 1364417nationaltrustimages chrislacey - Lockdown 'could see fewer cattle deaths' on Gloucestershire commonsImage copyright National Trust/Chris Lacey
Image caption About 470 animals are to be released on to the commons on Marking Day

There are hopes that reduced traffic due to the coronavirus lockdown will lead to fewer cattle being killed on two Gloucestershire commons.

About 470 animals are to be released on to Rodborough and Minchinhampton commons on Wednesday, in an annual event known as Marking Day.

The cattle, which are free to wander the open grassland, are often hit by vehicles. Three were killed last year.

Cattle owners said they hoped the animals would be safer this summer.

Ann Finlayson, chair of Minchinhampton and Rodborough commons advisory committee, said work had been done in recent years to help reduce cattle casualties.

“As a result only three cows were killed last year, compared to 12 several years ago.

“But three is still too many, and the local community is working hard to avoid all cattle collisions this grazing season.”

Image copyright National Trust/Cara Laver
Image caption Last year three cows died in collisions with vehicles

She said the lockdown has caused a recent reduction in vehicles crossing the commons.

“We hope the cows might be safer as a result, but a small minority of drivers seem to be using it as an excuse to drive at excessive speeds.

“Our message is clear, if you are driving across the commons from now until November exercise extreme caution to avoid an accident.”

Marking Day is a centuries-old tradition which happens on 13 May, and is the date on or after which graziers can release their livestock to roam the grasslands for the summer.

It takes its name from the historic practice of bringing cows from their home farms to a hunting lodge to be “marked”, so they could be identified later, before they were freed.

About 350 animals will be turned out on Minchinhampton Common and about 120 on Rodborough Common.

The commons cover more than 700 acres and are owned and maintained by The National Trust.

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