This Runaway Cow Is So Elusive, They're Calling Her 'Ghost in the Darkness'

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Koloski responds to reported sightings of Betsy — only to find his 'ghost in the darkness' has eluded him again. Ryszard Filipowicz/Shutterstock

You may not imagine cows as being particularly slippery. While these giant, plodding animals certainly possess a lot of surprising qualities, elusiveness has never been one of them.

But there's a cow in Alaska — somewhere in the state, of that we're fairly certain — who would beg to differ.

That would be Betsy, a true bovine miracle.

Six months ago, the 3-year-old decided to quit the rodeo, a job that required her to be featured at kids' events around the state.

When someone left a gate unlocked, Betsy ghosted from her Anchorage pen.

A black cow running.
Betsy isn't the first cow to try to make a go of things in the wild. Stephen P Baker/Shutterstock

And, like the savviest of fugitives, she made for a place that would make tracking her the most challenging: the 4,000 acres of rugged anonymity known as Far North Bicentennial Park.

"She got right to where she needed to be and it was, 'Whew!'," Frank Koloski tells MNN. "We spent countless hours days and nights trying to round her up."

The sprawling park, nestled up against Anchorage, couldn't be a better space for people — or animals who weigh more than 600 pounds — to disappear.

"The amount of grass and foliage that is available to her with the enormous amounts of open water that is still out there, it's making it really difficult," Koloski explains.

And despite glimpses of the animal reported on social media by local hikers and skiers, all the traps and technologies and come-hithers in the world have failed to bring her back to the rodeo.

"I get the late-night phone calls from APD — our police department — if somebody happened to see her pop her head out road side," Koloski says.

"By the time I get there — I don't live far away — I'll see her tracks. I'll walk the tracks for a little bit and she's disappeared. She'll blend right in with the spruce trees."

Betsy wouldn't be the first of her kind to go fugitive. A cow in Poland made headlines last year when she was spotted, days after escaping from a farm, running with a herd of wild bison in Bialowieza Forest. Another Polish cow managed to capture the hearts of the entire country when she swam across a lake in a bold bid for freedom. Sadly, that cow's life was no bovine comedy — she died when a veterinary team finally managed to sedate her.

Some cows just won't let themselves be taken alive.

But Betsy's old home isn't all that shabby. It's a sprawling stretch of land where the animal, a cross between an Angus and a Scottish highlander, roams happily with her own herd.

Betsy, with her extra-thick coat of hair, doesn't seem to mind the winter weather either.

"Cattle are very very adapting to being outside and surviving," Koloski says. "They can acclimate to really any weather.

"The herd that she comes from — they're already back in the pasture."

In a way, she may even be taunting her pursuers.

Aside from her exasperated owner, who calls her his "ghost in the darkness," she has baffled dogs, drones, search teams, as well as the local cycling community.

Indeed, Betsy is even teaching law enforcement a few new tricks.

SWAT team leader Mark Huelskoetter says the cow has become a useful training tool for a team that doesn't get a lot of real-life action.

"It's a good training opportunity for our guys, since we're going to be training anyway, to maybe get something good out of this — find this dude's cow," Huelskoetter told the Anchorage Daily News.

But still, all the blips on the drone's aerial surveillance map have come to nothing. And the drones have returned to their hangars, likely for good.

A Scottish highlander in the forest
Thanks to the breed's thick coat. a Scottish highlander like Betsy is unlikely to be bothered by the cold.

If there's a message Betsy might be sending to her former owner, it's this: She's done with the rodeo.

And for his part, Koloski seems to have gotten the memo, admitting that this cow just may not want to come home at all.

Indeed, he's seen a lot of comments from people who have spotted her suggesting the cow is "definitely not starving." And just maybe, this is the life Betsy wants for herself.

"I truly feel that," he says. "I can't, by no means, attempt to read a cow's mind, but clearly if any animal is content, which it's obvious from everybody that has seen her ..."

"I don't want to surrender. I may have no choice."