Metro

Bull eludes capture during pursuit in Ayer

Corey Roy, a bull rider affiliated with New England Rodeo, offered to put his wrangling skills to use in Ayer on Thursday.
Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Corey Roy, a bull rider affiliated with New England Rodeo, offered to put his wrangling skills to use in Ayer on Thursday.

AYER — The bull that escaped from a livestock auction in Littleton remained at large in the neighboring town of Ayer all day Thursday.

Corey Roy, a bull rider affiliated with New England Rodeo, offered to put his wrangling skills to use and traveled to Ayer to help the bull’s owner track down the wayward animal. Roy said he had a brief encounter with the bull early in the afternoon near Mountain Laurel Road in Ayer.

With his cowboy hat, plaid shirt, and rope, Roy appeared to be ready for a rodeo, and looked a bit out of place on the cul-de-sac of suburban homes with neatly manicured lawns. The top of his blue plaid shirt was unbuttoned, and sweat glistened on his forehead.

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“I almost had him,” he said. “He was right there.”

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Roy then trudged into a backyard, feeling confident that he could capture the bull. “I told the police, you need someone to catch this bull? You call me.” Then he disappeared into the woods, with his lasso firmly in his hand.

Meanwhile, a red truck with a large trailer in the back was idling on Mountain Laurel Road. This would be the bull’s ride home, if he was ever caught. The truck was driven by a man named George (he didn’t want to give his last name) who was patiently waiting to transport the bull once it was captured. “This guy’s been very difficult. He’s big. He’s smart,” he said. “This bull’s not going to go easy.”

Then George’s cellphone rang. It was the bull’s owner, instructing him to drive to the parking lot of the New Hope Community Church on Sandy Pond Road. There was a good chance they could corral the bull there.

About a half-dozen vehicles — containing members of the media and a few curious onlookers — followed the truck to the church parking lot.

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Among the spectators were Larissa Hamamoto, 17, and Ashley Krueger, 18. Both had been driving around together in a Nissan Sentra and tracking the bull’s movements since noon.

“It started off in my neighborhood yesterday,” Krueger said.

They had not yet seen the bull, but they remained hopeful. After investing so much time into following the bull, they seemed determined to catch a glimpse of it.

“We started this, and now we want to finish,” Krueger said.

Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Terry Den Besten, of Den Besten Farm in Bridgewater, searched an area near train tracks for the elusive bull.

After a little while, the caravan of vehicles pulled out of the church parking lot and headed over to Snake Hill Road. As the bull’s owner, Terry Den Besten, approached the wooded area behind a home, he was met by a woman retrieving her mail from her mailbox. She looked surprised to see a man standing in front of her house holding a lasso in his hand.

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And once again, the bull escaped.

As the afternoon wore on, Roy’s optimism began to wane.

By 3 p.m., Roy concluded that the outlook wasn’t good. There was simply too much open space and too many places for the bull to run. “I came so damn close,” he said. “My rope hit its horn. I haven’t seen it since.”

“It’s so much easier to ride them,” he said, “than to find them.”

The runaway bull has become the talk of several towns, as sightings of the animal have been reported in Ayer, Littleton, and Groton.

Someone even started a Twitter account for the bull, and using the handle @LittletonBull, wrote: “You’ll never catch me, coppers!”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.