‘Barney’ the bull eludes capture days after escape from Long Island farm

MASTIC, N.Y. — A sacrificial bull that escaped before a religious rite could be performed on him has roamed a portion of Long Island eluding capture since Tuesday.

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The 1,500-pound bull, which was nicknamed Barney because he escaped from a farm on Barnes Road, broke through a fence around 8 a.m. before he was supposed to be sacrificed in a religious ceremony, Greater Moriches reported.

“We have to get him to trust humans again,” John Di Leonardo, president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, a group trying to capture him, told Greater Moriches. “He is behaving like any other animal would in his situation. He just wants to live.”

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Barney has been spotted walking through fields, roads and suburban front yards. His escape briefly shut down the Sunrise Highway.

“I’m not afraid of him being aggressive to humans,” Frankie Floridia, of Strong Island Animal Rescue, told Newsday. “He doesn’t have horns, he’s not an aggressive animal. I think he’s going to see people and he’s going to run away. I’m just afraid, with the color of his coat, he’s going to wander into a road in the dark and some driver won’t see him.”

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Thick brush and dense vegetation has hindered search efforts. Rescuers have searched on foot, horseback, helicopter and used drones in their search. Traps and bait have not worked either.

“We’ve tried luring him with a cow, with horses,” Floridia said. “I’m out here with a (tranquilizer gun), looking for him, and I’m thinking, ‘I’m hunting cows in an Indiana Jones movie.’ It’s just frustrating. The longer it goes, you wonder what happens.”

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The Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue in New Jersey has agreed to take in the bull when it is captured.

“Barney has earned a pardon for a crime he never committed,” Di Leonardo told Greater Moriches.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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