AN Austrian ski lift operator has found an unusual method of guarding against avalanches on a his resort - a herd of Highland cows.
Michael Manhart, whose resort is based in the Western Austrian province of Vorarlberg, has introduced the cattle to the slopes of Lech.
Mr Manhart, who is credited with his innovative and environmentally-conscious approach to ski resort design, says Highland cows are the cheapest and most efficient way to make ski resorts safe from avalanches.
He said: “Nothing stops them, not even barbed wire or electric fences. In fact we only managed to keep them in one place by giving them a salt lick once a week. They are totally addicted to it.”
He said that Highland Cows’ considerable appetite for food meant that they covered a large surface area, eliminating shrubbery that would otherwise render slopes unpassable for skiers. The animals’ prints also create an irregular surface that forges a stronger bond between fresh snow and the surface, reducing the risk of avalanches. The animals spend three months in high-altitude areas of the resort preparing the ground, and the remaining months in the valley.