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Man gored to death by Scottish Highland bull on New Hampshire farm

Posted at 10:25 PM, May 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-01 01:19:18-04

A New Hampshire farmer is dead after being gored by one of his animals.

State police say Christopher Merrill, 51, was killed by a Scottish Highland bull on his family farm in Hampton Falls.

Authorities were notified after Merrill didn't return from tending his cattle last weekend. His body was found in a pasture the day after he was reported missing.

Search crews had some difficulty with the cattle as they worked to recover the body.

"They were relatively aggressive, so we had to deal with that as a part of the search, and also as part of the recovery of the victim," New Hampshire State Police Lt. Chris Vetter told CNN affiliate WMUR.

The details of Merrill's fatal injuries were not released and it's unclear whether he had a confrontation with a bull or whether his death was accidental.

Christopher Merrill

Christopher Merrill

The breed of cattle, which originally came from the Scottish Highlands, is known for shaggy hair and long horns.

"The Highland is considered an even-tempered animal -- bulls as well as cows," according to the Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University.

But animal experts say any breed of cattle can be dangerous when startled or nervous or in an attempt to show dominance.

Merrill's wife, Elizabeth, told the affiliate that the family wanted to open a Christmas tree farm on the property and that the cattle would keep the brush down.

She said the cattle will now be sent to other farms.

"He died on the land that he loved and I think it was meant to be," Merrill said. "In a couple weeks we were married 24 years, I feel blessed that I had him in my life."