Beefalo reported missing in Ellsworth

Beefalo on the Beefalo Meats ranch in Ellensburg, Washington.  Owners Mark and Linda Merrill said that the animals are very similar to cattle and can be a variety of colors depending on the breeding.  They are very much like cattle and behave like that too and not dangerous like a bison can be.  A beefalo contains about 3/8 bison and 5/8 of cattle. photo courtesy of Mark and Linda Merrill
Beefalo on the Beefalo Meats ranch in Ellensburg, Washington. Owners Mark and Linda Merrill said that the animals are very similar to cattle and can be a variety of colors depending on the breeding. They are very much like cattle and behave like that too and not dangerous like a bison can be. A beefalo contains about 3/8 bison and 5/8 of cattle. photo courtesy of Mark and Linda Merrill
Posted April 29, 2010, at 9:22 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:44 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Where’s the beef-alo?

That’s what the Ellsworth Police Department wants to know.

The department is asking residents to be on the lookout for a beefalo heifer that escaped from a trailer Monday afternoon near Shore Road off Route 1A.

The beefalo, bred successfully in the U.S. for about 30 years now, is a cross between domestic cattle of any breed and the American bison or buffalo. The critter in question was being transported by his new owner, along with a smaller calf, from New Hampshire to Bar Harbor when it escaped, according to Ellsworth Detective Dottie Small.

The owner “was out near the Friends and Family Market [on Route 1A] and he hit a pothole,” Small said Thursday. “The trailer opened, and the female beefalo got out.”

The beefalo hoofed it away from the trailer and last was seen in the area of Shore Road.

“The last anyone saw of it, it was headed down Shore Road with two guys chasing it,” said Officer Chris Smith, who went to the scene at about 3 p.m. Monday.

Smith said he had gone into the woods along Shore Road but had seen no evidence of the animal. There are a lot of deer in that area, he said, but there was no evidence that the beefalo heifer had joined the deer herd.

Although there are homes in that area, he said, there also are some fields and woods near Shore Road where the beefalo could linger.

“My guess is that it hasn’t gone too far,” he said.

The critter is not fully grown, according to Smith. The only description he had was that it was brown and white. According to the Australian Beefalo Association website, it is often difficult to distinguish between a beefalo and a cow, although other websites indicated that beefaloes can be more muscular than domestic cattle. The real difference is that the beefalo has a much thicker coat, inherited from its bison forebears.

The website indicated that beefaloes are docile and manageable and that you can feel the difference if you can get close enough. That’s not advisable, according to police, and, with this particular animal, it’s not likely to happen. The runaway beefalo was being raised for meat. It was field-raised and is not used to being around people.

“It’s not very friendly, and it’s not going to let you pet it,” Small added. “There has been some suggestion that it may have to be tranquilized.”

That’s if anyone can find it. Since the animal escaped on Monday, the Police Department has had no reports of sightings.

“We haven’t had one single call on it since,” she said.

Beefalo meat has a growing reputation for taste and nutrition, and industry websites boast that the meat is lower in fat, cholesterol and calories than beef. That being the case, there has been some suggestion that the wayward bovine might have met its fate at the hands of an overenthusiastic sportsman who knows an opportunity when he sees one.

Small, however, said there have been no reports of gunshots and no aroma of barbecue in the area this week.

Anyone spotting the beefalo is asked to call the Police Department at 667-2133.

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