ORRINGTON, Maine — A sheep that was on the lam for two weeks and presumed dead was found and returned to its owner thanks to a cooperative capture effort involving the local animal control officer and Orrington police.
The 2-year-old ram — which has no name — had somehow gotten free and wandered away from a family farm and livestock business on Hoxie Hill Road two weeks ago. Despite notifying neighbors and authorities — many of whom actively searched for the sheep — it was never located and presumed a victim of predators or the cold weather.
“To be honest with you, I’m kind of surprised that the ram survived all this time with the expanding coyote population we have around here,” said Carla Damon, animal control officer for Orrington and Clifton. “We all were afraid he was coyote food.”
No one had seen hide nor hair of the ram until a passing motorist saw it standing in the road near the intersection of Route 15 and Settlers Way around noon Thursday.
The driver called police and reported seeing an alpaca.
After dispatching Orrington police officers, Penobscot Regional Communications Dispatch contacted Damon.
“They called me because the officers weren’t 100 percent sure how to handle the situation,” she said with a chuckle. “Apparently that wasn’t covered at the police academy.”
Damon, who used to raise sheep, arrived at the scene and found the ram standing on the road’s shoulder.
“But he looked like he wanted to run back out there again, so I just started blatting at him like I was another sheep and tried to keep him between me and the officer,” Damon recalled. “He took off into a ditch and ran along that down the road, so I took off running after him with my catch pole.”
In the meantime, another Orrington officer showed up and provided assistance.
Sgt. Jon Carson, Orrington’s community policing supervisor for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, got ahead of the ram while Damon remained alongside it, and Deputy Tom Rushmore came up behind to try to box the ram in.
Damon and the two officers maneuvered the ram to her van, and it was returned to its home early Thursday afternoon in surprisingly good shape.
“He has lost a lot of weight,” Damon said. “I’m guessing he survived on the grass that’s come out from the melted snow and there are plenty of puddles around from rain and melted snow. He’s lucky to still be alive, let alone in pretty fair shape.”