EDMONTON – A battle of wills between a massive bull and Edmonton police and other officials has finally come to an end.
After spending the day Wednesday trying to corral the escapee from a slaughtering plant, officers shot the bull with a tranquilizer gun.
Once they were sure it was down for the count, they brought in a front-end loader and lifted the massive animal into a waiting trailer.
The cattle caper began shortly after 7 a.m. when a calf being loaded off a trailer at Edmonton Custom Packers, a small slaughtering plant, slipped through an unlatched gate and escaped.
Police said the calf wandered the streets of the surrounding industrial area for awhile as no one was able to catch it.
The owner then decided it was a good idea to release one of his bulls to lure the young ‘un back — but the bigger bovine took off, too.
“The bull charged at a police cruiser, ramming it and climbing over it and did it several times,” said police spokeswoman Clair Seyler.
There were no damage or injuries reported.
Soon after, the calf walked into a fenced area, was corralled and loaded back onto a cattle trailer. It was then returned to the slaughtering plant.
But the bigger problem remained at large. Weighing about 1,000 kilograms, the bull eventually wandered into a fenced lot behind a Wendy’s restaurant and Staples store and beside a city transit train service yard.
While officials took their time coming up with a plan to capture the bull, the animal waded through knee-deep snow, munched on frozen cattails and stared down a growing throng of reporters and cameras.
A provincial beef inspector at the slaughtering plant participated in some of the discussions on how best to capture the bull, but he said no one seemed to know what to do.
Someone suggested giving the bull oats. But bulls don’t eat oats, he said, horses do.
Bylaw officers and the bull’s owners eventually jumped on three snowmobiles and tried to herd the bull toward a cattle truck. But it wouldn’t budge.
They blasted air horns, used a police siren, had a semi truck stop to blow its horn then shot it with rubber bullets and bean bags.
At one point, after a man on a snowmobile threw snowballs at the bull, it charged. He dove off his machine to safety.
A passerby wearing a cowboy hat, carrying a rope, next offered to help. He got on the back of a snowmobile but was unable to land his lasso around the animal’s neck.
By late afternoon, the owners hauled out some hay, hoping the bull was ready for supper. They even brought in two cows to stand outside the cattle trailer, but the other animals didn’t get much attention.
Finally, the tranquilizer gun was brought in. The fate of the big beast once it was hauled away was not yet known.
It’s not the first time an Alberta city has had an experience with livestock on the loose.
In the summer of 1990, a pig escaped from an abattoir in Red Deer and roamed the city’s parks for five months. Named Francis by locals, it was finally captured in 1991, but died of injuries it suffered while being caught.
A bronze statue of Francis now stands on a main street in the city.