Ski season is underway across the Austrian Alps, and while that means hordes of happy tourists, it's not with its dangers. Each year dozens of people are killed or injured in avalanches - but one resort operator says he's found the perfect solution to keeping people safe and the snowpack in place: cows!
Michael Manhart, who runs a popular ski resort in Lech, is already noted for having invented a remote-controlled detonation system to safely trigger avalanches, though he's recently found a method that works even better and is virtually free.
This year, Manhart released a herd of 23 Scottish highland cows to graze the snowy alpine slopes, contentedly chomping through plants and shrubs that would otherwise be an obstacle for skiers. In addition to that, the cattle cover so much ground that the irregular pattern left by their hoof-prints actually helps anchor down the snow, preventing slippages that result in an avalanche.
"Their hoof steps act against the snow cover sliding out of place by increasing its grip," Manhart tells the Austrian Independent.
The ski resort operator says that the cows have helped save him thousands of dollars in labor costs and that he plans on adding several more animals to his fleet of bovine safety workers -- though with full bellies and plenty of room to wander, chances are they never realized they were on the job.