A Peak District farmer has been forced to give up his “gentle” highland cattle after a single dog walker complained that they felt unsafe around the herd.
Alex Birch, 32, has roamed his 27-strong herd on Baslow Edge in the Peak District for 40 years, ever since his grandfather David Thorp first introduced them to the land as a young man.
Walkers in the national park regularly encountered the red-haired cattle, described as “the most photographed cows in the world”, as they grazed on the bracken.
They were even the face of BBC Look North’s weather programme.
But ramblers cannot find the animals on Baslow Edge anymore, as Mr Birch has been forced to sell and slaughter his cattle following a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) from an anonymous dog walker.
The complaint stressed concern after a walker claimed that one of the highland cows attempted to attack their dog.
A petition, which has branded the HSE’s decisions as a “knee-jerk reaction”, has now been signed by more than 8,000 in support of the farmer who owned the herd which was removed from the 300-acre plot of land in January.
The signatories are also calling for the return of the highland cattle to this area of the Peak District, which was visited by walkers and photographers in search of the furry animals, and even described as “landmarks” by some.