No More Exploding Cows in Austria

V I E N N A, Austria, April 19, 2001 -- The Austrian province of Vorarlberg will ban the practice of blowing up dead cows with explosives on its picture-postcard Alpine meadows, statetelevision ORF said today.

The small, mountainous province nestled betweenLiechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany lives off tourism, andauthorities were worried tourists might be put off by explodingcadavers and possible contamination of ground water.

About 20 head of cattle die on Vorarlberg's Alpine pastureseach year — generally either being struck by lightning or falling downprecipices. Because of the rugged terrain, helicopters usuallyhave 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 deadanimals at a cost of 500 schillings ($32) with the help ofdemolition experts, who place explosives inside the cadavers.

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

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