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22 Jul, 2009 04:37

Measures beefed up against cow invasion

An emergency hotline has been created in a Russian town where cows roaming the streets and grazing on lawns have become a common scene. Now a “shepherd on call” takes the uncontrolled horned beasts to a cattle pound.

Life was tranquil in Kachkanar, a peaceful, scenic town in the Sverdlovsk region in Russia’s Urals. Until now, that is. Loud lowing is just one gripe locals have, as the town's largest inhabitants – cows – have taken their right to roam a little too far for some.

The mayor, Sergey Nabokikh, is ready to lock horns over the issue of the carefree cows, saying it's more than mooing that's making him mad.

“I have a lot of respect for animals, but we live in a town here and it has to be clean,” he said. “We’re planting flower-beds, trying to make it more beautiful. How do I explain it to the cows?! They do what nature tells them to.”

Enter shepherd-turned-special agent Mansur Mukhamadvaleev, who's leading an operation to reign in the roving bovines. Complete with whip and Wellingtons, he rounds the animals up and moves them to greener pastures.

“It’s no problem driving them out to the pasture, but they come back in half an hour,” said Mukhamadvaleev. “As soon as I get back to the office, the operator gets a call again. This time in district 9, instead of district 7. Same cows, different place."

So the authorities decided it's time to beef up the measures to get the cows under control with a new cattle pound. It's a bit like getting your car clamped: if a cow is found grazing where it shouldn't be, they're taken here to chew the cud while they wait to be claimed by their owners.

“We have trees, so that animals would not get hot,” said Sergey Lipatov, the town’s deputy mayor. “There is also grass, but it has all been eaten up. However, they will not starve to death here. There is always something to chew on.”

They're not exactly milked, but owners pay up to $10 to get their beasts back. The money helps fund the operation and keep the town tidy. The clampdown on cows has been such a success that an emergency hotline has been set up for residents to call, meaning Mansur Mukhamadvaleev is destined to be a man on the move for the foreseeable future.