Brazen steer’s bid for freedom falls short

of the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half of the Elite 8 of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Quickens Loans Arena on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Cleveland, OH. Kentucky defeated Notre Dame 68-66 to advance to the Final Four in Indianapolis. Photo by Michael Reaves

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By Joshua Huff

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Emboldened by the taste of freedom, a steer escaped the clutches of UK’s College of Agriculture on Tuesday, only to be captured off of Cooper Drive and Kastle Road in Lexington, Ky.

The entire chase lasted about two hours, UK spokeswoman Kathy Johnson said, beginning with the animal’s breakout at about 10 a.m. and culminating in an impromptu rodeo that ended in the apprehension of the animal at about 11:50 a.m.

“It was just running,” animal science sophomore Adam Menker said. “They get like that. They don’t know where they’re at and they get nervous, and he found an open chute on campus and he took off.”

Surrounded by wranglers, Animal Control and numerous police cruisers, the steer made its way down Cooper Drive before taking a break just off of Scoville Road. With lanes shut down in both directions, the steer was penned in and seemingly down for the count.

That, however, was far from the truth.

After attempting to pen the resting steer in with panels off a truck, officials and a small group of students hatched a plan to recapture the steer. A tranquilizer gun was brought in and at 11:49 a.m., the steer was shot, further agitating it.

“They got it tranquilized and then it was sitting there, and I knew if it was going to bolt, we could at least get a rope around it and anchor it down,” Menker said. “So it at least can’t get away from us. If they do that, they get in a flight-or-fight type of deal. They get so pumped that they fight through the drugs.”

The steer did bolt, seemingly aware that its window of opportunity was closing. The race, however, was short-lived as the drugs took effect and it settled in a driveway close to the intersection of Cooper Drive and Kastle Road.

At that point, a trailer arrived in preparation for the final showdown. Menker, along with a band of officials, moved in on the steer and with a flick of the wrist, Menker, a member of the UK Rodeo team, unleashed his lasso, which landed perfectly around the steer’s neck. A group of seven men grabbed the rope and wrestled the bucking steer. After a brief struggle, it collapsed to the ground in defeat.

Johnson provided a statement by Dean of Agriculture Nancy Cox, who said that the steer got loose from the Garigus animal facility during its unloading.

“The comfort and care of our research animals is of utmost importance to us and we appreciate the closing of Cooper Drive (from about 10:30 to 11:30) to allow out staff to collect him back using all the best handling practices,” Cox wrote. ”The steer was collected and taken to the UK farm. We are a land grant institution and the beef cattle industry is an important agriculture enterprise in Kentucky and working with animals is an important component of our student experience. We are evaluating our unloading procedures to avoid this occurring again.”

With that, the escape bid was thwarted, but not before UK students were able to trek to south campus to witness the event.

“I got to class five minutes late and as I was walking in, everybody was rushing out saying ‘let’s go see the cow,’” Community and Leadership Development major Caroline Davis said. “We made sure we got to the cow as quickly as possible.”