This highland cattle bull and three other cattle escaped from an Orland farm on Sunday. They are still loose and their owner is hoping to capture them alive. Credit: Courtesy of Sonny Atwood.

Sonny Atwood loves his four Highland cattle and wants nothing more than to bring them safely back to his Orland farm after they ran off on Sunday.

But attempts to corral the steer, bull and two cows have failed.

The normally docile cattle were spooked by something in their pasture Sunday afternoon and have been on the run ever since, according to Atwood. He has resigned himself to a more drastic solution next time they are spotted.

“I am going to have to shoot them,” Atwood said Thursday morning. “I am afraid they will hurt someone or run out in front of a car, and I don’t want that to happen, [but] I would really rather capture them alive.”

He said the cows always come to him, but something riled them up, and they were scared of everything, including him. He suspects a bear or possibly some other large predator is what set the cattle off.

“I was in the pasture and hollered to them,” he said. “They went right through the fence and did not stop.”

Since then they have been spotted running along Route 15 in Orland, along US Route1, in Allen’s Wild Blueberry Fields on the Front Ridge Road in Orland, near Alamoosook Lake and Thursday morning in a blueberry field between US Route 1 and Cedar Swamp Road in Orland.

Every time they have either been gone when Atwood has arrived or run off when he has tried to catch them.

“At the point we are now, they won’t come to me so that means they won’t come to anybody,” Atwood said. “I don’t believe anyone can catch them.”

Still, Atwood has not given up on a happy ending to this tale of runaway livestock. He’s alerted local law enforcement, including the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, the Maine State Police, animal control offices and local animal search groups.

He’s also posted on social media and had a friend fly over areas with a drone attempting to locate them from the air.

At some point since their escape, the quartet has split into pairs and are no longer traveling together.

If spotted, Atwood asks people to call him at 207-974-9977 with the location.

“I have had cows all my life and this is the first time this has happened to me,” he said. “I am absolutely sad if I end up having to shoot them.”

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.