No More Exploding Cows in Austria

The Austrian province of Vorarlberg will ban the practice of blowing up dead cows with explosives on its picture-postcard Alpine meadows, state television ORF said today.

The small, mountainous province nestled between Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany lives off tourism, and authorities were worried tourists might be put off by exploding cadavers and possible contamination of ground water.

About 20 head of cattle die on Vorarlberg's Alpine pastures each year — generally either being struck by lightning or falling down precipices. Because of the rugged terrain, helicopters usually have to be called in to remove the remains.

Given that hiring a helicopter costs about 15,000 schillings ($956) a trip, some farmers have opted to blow up their dead animals at a cost of 500 schillings ($32) with the help of demolition experts, who place explosives inside the cadavers.

The state of Vorarlberg takes on up to 80 percent of the transport costs, but locals are calling for 100 percent cover to stamp out the grisly practice, ORF said.

"I will put a stop to these blasts. I never even knew they were taking place," said Erich Schwaerzler, a member of local parliament in charge of environmental and agricultural issues.