Friday, October 09, 2009

Bovine Mayhem, Raccoon Terror


Strange to see in the paper yesterday two stories about animals attacking humans.

Story one, from the local EDP, concerned a farmer being trampled by his own cattle.

Number two – a woman in Florida was attacked by a marauding band of raccoons.

No, I'm not making this up!

Now, I have heard of cow attacks before. Despite the unlikely nature of such premeditated bovine assaults, it appears they are much more common than you might think. If you think not, try typing “cow attacks” into a Google search.

Herewith I must confess to putting a whole generation of school children at extreme risk by assuring them that cows are harmless, docile creatures and will not harm you. (Bulls are an exception!). I must plead ignorance. I just didn't know that cows were so damn dangerous! They never were when I was young.

At Thorndon in Suffolk, a farmer received “multiple injuries” after he was trampled by his own cattle. Roger Jones had broken ribs, cuts on his face and injured his shoulder after the cattle attacked him on his own land. He was in a stable condition in the hospital. (I had a look in EAU but didn't see Roger – I would have liked to find out some of the details!) Most of the cattle assaults documented on Google concern cows with calves. This makes sense. No matter how domesticated the beast, when the young are threatened (or are seen to be threatened by a brain-less cow) they will defend the calf. Fine. I can understand that. What I would like to know from Roger is what exactly was he doing when he was attacked? If they were his cows, surely they would be used to him and not see him as a threat?

People in England have died after being trampled by cows. Yes, it's true.

Part of my pitch to kids was our divorce from the natural world. Our recent ancestors would have had intimate knowledge of domestic (and wild) animals which we have lost. Ask most kids where a steak comes from and they will say Tesco's. The idea that a cow had to die and be butchered to get a steak is only peripherally known to most kids. They know it, sort of deep down, by they don't really think about it or imagine it as part of their daily lives. Confronted with the reality of slaughter, most kids instantly convert to vegetarianism (fortunately for Tesco this conversion only usually lasts until the next BBQ!).

I just wish the paper had let us in on more of the details.

Same day – same paper – a real human interest story.

Gretchen Whitted, resident of Florida was trying to chase some raccoons from her garden. Five raccoons surrounded her and attacked. She ended up in the hospital with cuts to her neck and leg (presumably she fell down – the idea that a raccoon could, or would, leap a metre or more in the air to bite Gretchen's neck is just too much to take in!) Still, a pack of killer raccoons loose in a Florida garden is pretty worrying!

Again we are sadly lacking in detail. Did, for instance, Gretchen corner the raccoons? Most animals will attack if cornered. What does it mean when she tried to chase them from her garden? With a stick? A broom? Her hands? A twelve gauge shotgun??

I need and want to know!

From the Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Animal control officers hope to trap a pack of raccoons that mauled a 74-year-old Florida woman who tried to chase them from her yard.

The sheriff in Polk County, east of Tampa, says Gretchen Whitted fell when five raccoons surrounded and attacked her Sunday. She was taken to a hospital with extensive cuts from her neck to her legs.

We’re not talking about a lot of little bites here,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “She was filleted.”

A neighbor called for help after hearing the woman’s cries and seeing her covered in blood.

Whitted was treated for rabies, though officials doubt the animals were infected.

Fire crews flooded nearby drains to drive the animals out, but none appeared. Animal control officers hope to catch them using cat food and sardines as bait.

Filleted! Not just bit, but filleted!!

There's something strange going on here! I'm sure raccoons could give you more than a nasty nip, but the idea that they form a gang, make a plan and then attack someone needs investigating – and now!! There are a lot of raccoons!! They're all over the place!!

My expose regarding harmless animals, given in good faith and with more than a modicum of humour and with tongue firmly in cheek is looking fairly irresponsible and, perhaps, the basis for a very expensive legal action.

I can see the headline now: Girl Trampled – Irresponsible Teacher Blamed!

A young lady was savagely attacked by a herd of cows whilst walking near Stowmarket yesterday. Sally Smith told he Mum she was going for a walk but is now in hospital in Bury with severe concussion after being trampled by up to 15 cows near her home in Lackbrain Crescent.

I was just walking across the field to get home when the cows charged at me and attacked. I wasn't doing anything to annoy then! My English teacher, Mr Kauffman, told me years ago that cows were not dangerous. He lied to me! I'm very upset.” Suffolk Constabulary refused to comment saying the incident is under investigation.

I may need a good lawyer. Not to mention a fence to keep raccoons out of my garden!


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