[Cdt-l] Cdt-l Digest, Vol 39, Issue 42

Brett blisterfree at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 31 13:05:58 CST 2010

> I'd just spooked a bunch of cows in the draw
> before climbing up the ridge.   While I was setting up my pad and
> sleeping bag in the tent, seventeen of them lined up side by side about
> 50 yards away staring toward my tent as if to say, "What do you think
> you're doing here."  Sadly they wondered off before I got a chance to
> snap a picture.
> --Handlebar

It seems they do this whenever the light is insufficient to know exactly 
what you are and what you're up to. I've never witnessed this behavior 
in broad daylight; in fact it's the antithesis of the "every cow for 
herself" scattering that usually occurs by day. What's more, the cows 
will actually follow you sometimes, if you're night hiking, always 
maintaining a certain distance behind you, stopping when you stop, 
resuming when you move again. I imagine it's a genetic thing, dating 
back to a time when their wild ancestors encountered large predators in 
Africa and Europe, etc. It may yet serve them well, particularly in 
Arizona where mountain lion predations are sometimes a concern.

I'm curious as to whether rattlesnakes are a concern for cattle. Do they 
respond to the sight or sound of snakes? What are the consequences of 
snakebite in this case? The story goes that poisonous snakes evolved the 
rattle as a form of advertisement to large grazing animals, in order to 
avoid confrontation and the risk of being stepped on. But what are the 
odds of a hiker ever getting to find out firsthand how such an encounter 
would play out?

- blisterfree

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