The cow which trampled a man at Devil’s Dyke this week was reportedly spooked by dogs chasing cattle on the Downs.
The man was airlifted to hospital with head and chest injuries on Sunday after the cow hit him at about 9am, on land owned by the National Trust between Devil’s Dyke Farm and Truleigh Hill at Fulking.
It followed a similar incident three years ago when 37-year-old Abby Colmer, from Brighton, was left hospitalised for six days with broken ribs and a punctured lung after being trampled by a cow at Devil’s Dyke.
Today, the National Trust urged dog walkers to keep pets under control at all times around livestock and to close gates behind them.
Charlie Cain, National Trust Lead Ranger said: “We were extremely concerned to hear that an individual was involved in an incident on Sunday morning concerning cattle grazed on our land at Fulking.
“We take all issues that pose any risk to peoples’ safety very seriously. We work closely with our tenant farmer to manage the site and regularly review grazing arrangements and their impact on visitor safety.
“We and our tenant check the cattle regularly and these animals have experienced a range of visitors including mountain bike and mountain bike events, horse riders, walkers and buggies without any incident.
“We know very little about this particular incident, but local accounts have indicated that the cows were being chased by a number of dogs belonging either to an individual or a professional dog walker.
“It was a running animal, trying to escape from dogs that unfortunately knocked the person over.
“The South Downs is a grazed environment and without grazing we would lose the open nature of the Downs and the wildlife. The profusion of chalk grassland flowers which people enjoy and the butterflies and other insects that depend on them would soon disappear under courser grasses and scrub. Because of the public access and the number of dogs it is very difficult to find anyone to graze sheep on many of our sites which is why we have cattle.
“To keep people, their dogs and the cattle safe, we ask that dog owners keep their pets under close control at all times around livestock and to close gates behind them.”
In April a herd of wild ponies were removed from land owned by the National Trust at Southwick after the Sussex Pony and Grazing Conservation Trust witnessed irresponsible behaviour by dog owners, as well as parents and children.