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Steer on the loose in Oakland County for 6 weeks captured along I-75

Posted at 5:47 AM, May 22, 2023

A steer that had been on the loose for several days in Oakland County was finally captured on Sunday afternoon along a busy highway.

Lester had been wandering for six weeks along I-75 near Holly, but was caught on Sunday. He and fellow cattle where being moved to a new farm when the two-ton bovine managed to slip away.

Lester's adventure came to an end along I-75 in northern Oakland County. A stretch of the highway had to be shut down so a cowboy could wrangle Lester and return him to his owner.

Original story below from last week

Steer on the loose in Oakland County as animal rescuer sounds alarm to help him

"My greatest fear is someone hits him with a car at night and they get hurt. And my other fear is someone shoots him because they're afraid he's a danger," said Gretchen Sommer, who for two weeks now has been trying to get Oakland County Animal Control and Michigan Humane to help secure a large steer that was recently seen roaming a heavily wooded area in Holly.

Sommer was contacted by someone asking if she had lost one of her cows. She said no but that she and her husband would try to help.

The steer, a male bovine that has been castrated, was last seen wandering on nearly 70 acres of unfenced, private property near I-75. And it seems he's gotten close enough to the freeway for drivers to spot him.

Someone recently posted on Facebook, "Just saw a brown and white cow grazing next to the north side of 75 about two miles north of Grange Hall Road."

Sommer and her husband were allowed onto the property and walked the heavily wooded area and saw the timid steer.

"It was like a needle in a haystack. We looked ahead of us. It was probably about 40 feet. And we're like, 'Oh, my gosh. He's right there,'" said Sommer, who went prepared with grain to try to gain the steer's trust.

Sommer actually recognized him as Lester, one of five cows left behind when The Devoted Barn was evicted from a property in Rose Township.

"The area for the cows was absolutely sad. It was dilapidated. The muck was up to your knees," Sommer said. "The fence was so dilapidated. It wouldn't hold a sheep, let alone a cow."

Michigan Humane directed the steer and the cows — all five of them — to be taken to Abraham Ranch in Clarkston, where they are included in the operations of the farm.

What Michigan Humane and Oakland County Animal Control didn't make public is the day Lester was being transported to the Abraham Ranch, Lester broke free.

"We have a two-ton plus animal running around. No one seems to be concerned," said Sommer, who offered to take the steer into her rescue, Lucky Day Animal Rescue, where the steer would be able to live with their cattle.

But Sommer said animal control officials said no because the steer belonged to The Devoted Barn.

Melissa Borden of The Devoted Barn said she was just told Wednesday that Lester got loose six weeks ago.

"I got a phone call yesterday saying that one of the cows might have escaped. But I didn't know for sure that that actually had happened until this morning when I talked to Michigan Humane Society and found out for sure that he did jump their fence," Borden said.

Borden said she'll be out Friday morning to try to secure Lester.

"If there's people out there chasing him, he's not going to feel safe," she said. "He's not going to cause harm to anybody. I promise. He is 100% going to stay as far away from people he doesn't know. So he does not pose a threat in that way."

7 Action News asked why Lester and the cows were left behind when she was evicted from the Rose Township property.

"I screwed up and I will own that. When we went to catch the cows — I have three very social cows that are super friendly — we bottle fed them, their halter broke. And then we have five that are very, very fearful of people," Borden said.

She added that Lester and the cows were comfortable around her and her volunteers, but during the move out of the property, the animals became stressed, making securing them difficult and they ran out of time.

Borden said she never abandoned the animals and said she has been in contact with Michigan Humane and the Abraham Ranch about Lester and the cows.

"I certainly did not want to leave five fearful animals that only trust us. They're a herd; they're a bonded herd," she said. "Never in a million years would I ever abandon them."

Borden said the plan was always for her to get Lester and the cows back from Michigan Humane. She even said she talked to the folks at Abraham Ranch almost every single day.

"They send me pictures and updates," Borden said.

What Borden could not explain is why she didn't notice Lester was missing in any of the pictures.

7 Action News reached out to Michigan Humane. They released the following statement:

"At their request, Michigan Humane has been supporting Oakland County Animal Control to relocate five cows from the Devoted Barn property to our Center for Farm Animal Care at Abraham Ranch for housing and care. As part of that transfer process, one of the cows did break free and entered the wooded portion of the property at Abraham Ranch. Our team, in conjunction with OCAC, has been regularly searching the area for him since that point. The cow was spotted on private property last week in the area and at this time, OCAC is working with the cow's owner and the property owner on next steps for all 5 cows."

When 7 Action News asked why the public was not notified that a steer was on the loose, they replied, "We had no reason to believe the cow was not still on the property or an adjacent piece of land and OCAC was aware of the situation."

A spokesperson for Oakland County Animal Control said there may have been a breakdown in communication because Michigan Humane became the lead agency on recovering the cows.

The spokesperson said they believed Michigan Humane contacted The Devoted Barn about Lester being missing and it seems Michigan Humane thought animal control made the notification.