Help the pigs
Heifer eludes authorities for six hours

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A less fortunate bovine, dubbed "Bob," made headlines in 2004 when his body beached on a sandbar in the same area, creating a mighty stench.

No one knows his life story, or how he came to be a carcass in the river.

But back to our chase.

As police scrambled to head off the cow on the west side of the river, a veterinarian rushed to the scene to administer tranquilizers.

Reaching the shore, the heifer ran across Bay Drive to the railroad tracks.

She turned north and followed the tracks for a while, eventually becoming cornered at a chain link fence near Central Ave. and Interstate 15.

Breathing heavily and foaming at the mouth, the animal juked an approaching animal control officer and, like a skilled running back, turned on the speed and ran through the perimeter set up by officials.

"He's determined," Reeves said.

The chase finally began to slow when the cow ran to the end of 2nd Avenue S.W. where she came up against several strong fences, including one separating the street from Interstate 15.

Dr. Jennifer Evans of Big Sky Medical Center arrived at the scene with a tranquilizer gun and shot it once with a dart.

It had little effect.

After three darts, the heifer showed no sign of going down. Instead, workers created a makeshift pen with metal panels that led to the stock trailer.

After more than six hours, eight miles, more than a dozen pursuers, three tranquilizer darts and numerous near-misses, the heifer was corralled and walked into the stock trailer at 11:45 a.m.

"It covered some ground," Reeves said. "She did make one heck of a journey."

Reeves said police were authorized to use deadly force on the animal, but only as a last resort.

"Had there been an imminent threat to anybody, we would have shot," Reeves said. "But we understand it was worth a significant amount of money."

Morris, the Mickey's manager, estimated at 95 cents per-pound the heifer was worth around $1,140.

This isn't the first time an animal has escaped from the packing plant.

In 2003 three buffalo escaped from Mickey's, thundered down 10th Avenue South before being shot. In 2001, a lamb escaped from the packing plant and a few years earlier another buffalo escaped from the plant and was recaptured.

Reeves said plant managers told police the company was under new ownership and working to correct the animal escape problems.

In some cases of repeat offenses, Reeves said, the person can be charged financially for officers' time and efforts, but it would be up to police administration officials to determine that.

There were horses ready to be deployed, Morris said, but once the cow went into the city limits, it was too dangerous.

"I was totally amazed she was able to swim the river," Morris said.

Morris said the heifer would be taken back to Mickey's, put in a pen (one with larger fences) and be fed and watered.

As for the fate of the tenacious heifer, it's still up in the air.

"Everybody has emotions about the animals," Morris said. "We care a great deal for her. There will definitely be discussions over it. There have been some comments over whether she deserves to live."

Officer Aaron Hartnell, one of the officers who responded, said five officers were involved in the chase.

"It was odd," he said. "I'm just glad no one got hurt and all ended well. In the end, that's all we ask for."

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Clifton Adcock at 791-6560, (800) 438-6600 or