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Calves are cute but their moms might feel overly protective

Linköping’s digital map lets farmers and tourists know where the cows are

Linköping’s digital map lets farmers and tourists know where the cows are

It helps the former track their herds more efficiently, and the latter avoid getting into risky situations with the bovines

The municipal website of Linköping (Sweden) now features a new addition – a regularly updated digital map which tracks the location of cow herds grazing in the Tinnerö protected oak landscape. The creation of this online tool helps several different groups who might be interested in where the cows are at any given moment.

On the one hand, the farmers can better track their herds, and on the other hand visitors to the protected natural area can evade getting too close to the bovines – in calving season the mothers can be overly protective and somewhat aggressive.

And for those of you who might be wondering why the cows are left to roam a protected natural area – it turns out that this is how it’s always been, and it is in the interest of the municipality. Cows and sheep have grazed on these lands since the Stone Age and are thus an essential element of the local ecosystem.

GPS to the rescue

There are about 15-200 grazing animals in the Tinnerö, a wilderness area of 500 hectares, located in the southern reaches of Linköping. The pasture is divided into 35 pens and there are nine cattle herds roaming among them. Two to five animals from each herd wear necklaces with GPS technology.

The devices were developed with the help of a private company and Linköping University. The tracking data is available and regularly updated (every 10 minutes) on a digital map on the municipal website.

Cow owners need daily supervision of their animals and with the help of GPS technology, they can find them faster. But it is not just the farmers who benefit from GPS technology. The map is quite useful to Tinnerö's visitors, such as hikers. 

The cows are large grazing animals that can weigh up to 800 kilos and all have calves with them during this season. Their maternal instinct is to protect the calves and so approaching them might trigger them to charge. The situation can escalate even more quickly if the hikers are accompanied by a dog, so authorities advise people to use the map and avoid the areas where there are cows.

An easy way to see if the cows are walking in a pasture is that it is marked in red on the map. If there are no animals there at the moment, the marking is green.

The map is updated every ten minutes during the day and less often in the evening and at night, in order to save GPS batteries.

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