Belarusian cows in search of asylum?

Polish border guards had their work cut out this week as a huge herd of Belarusian cows went astray and crossed into Poland illegally (no visas!).

Bogdan Zaryn reports

Over the past eight months Polish border guards have deported over two thousand people who crossed into the European Union via Poland. But it's the first time officials had to deport livestock.

Polish border guards were put on alert when they received orders to detain a runaway herd of several hundred cows, which swam across the Bug River from Belarus to Poland.

Poland's eastern frontier is 1143 kilometers long. It borders with non-EU member states Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian enclave Kaliningrad. So far this year, Polish border guards have already deported over 2500 illegal aliens. Many of them tried to cross the European Union's eastern border via Poland on their way to Germany.

But who has ever heard of stray cows crossing the EU's eastern border illegally?

Poland's chief Veterinarian Krzystof Jazdrewski says that the cows most probably thought that grazing land was greener on the other side

"250 cows close to the Polish border just swam through the river to the Polish side. In the heads of the cows this is one leader and if the leader goes somewhere the rest of the heard follows.

Polish vets and border guard officials tried to turn the cows around, but the animals didn't want to go back home.

"We were in close contact with the Belarusian authorities to send them back the same way they came because the water isn't deep there, but we had problems so we decided that a truck from Belarus and take them."

Polish authorities have managed to corral and deport 50 cows so far. But what about the rest?

"We have to send them back because they are considered to be illegal immigrants without documents."

EU migration expert Karol Reczkin says that animal lovers from EU member states may apply for a passport so that their four legged friends could move freely within the EU. But what about livestock from Non- EU member states?

"In this case they can be call third country animals -then they can't have EU passports. But they could have a Shengen visa to enter and move freely around the EU within three months."

Belarusian authorities now plan to build a fence to prevent livestock from crossing the EU's longest eastern border into Poland. As for the remaining 200 cows authorities in Belarus will have to pay all transport costs so the cows can return safely to their grazing fields in Belarus.