Idaho State Police trooper Michael Marrott attempts to steer the stubborn heifer clear of Interstate-90 last Friday.
Managing Editor | November 8, 2021 6:20 PM
CATALDO — Idaho State Police troopers and Shoshone County Sheriff's deputies were led on several foot pursuits along Interstate 90 throughout the day Friday when an uncooperative subject repeatedly threatened to canter into oncoming traffic.
The suspect, described as a young brown and white female with four legs, a pink snout, and a brown tail, successfully eluded numerous attempts to corral her as she ran on and along the active westbound roadway near milepost 40.
The brash bovine named Houdini was first reported by motorists in the area around 10 a.m. Friday morning as it played chicken with traffic, which kicked off a series of visits to the area by law enforcement.
The cow had an obvious beef with the troopers and deputies that arrived on scene to shoo it away, as she would simply hoof it back to the roadway when they left.
SCSO Sheriff Mike Gunderson explained that while police tried in vain to steer the mad cow away, numerous attempts were made to determine and locate the animal's owner.
"We can't sit out there all day long trying to corral it," he said. "We called 20 different people that own animals in the area and just couldn't get ahold of anyone that would take ownership."
Thankfully for both I-90 motorists and Houdini, a local citizen with the proper equipment and experience was able to finally corral it into an area away from the road around 3 p.m., where it could no longer cause a threat.
Gunderson was appreciative to the citizen who assisted, as other, more drastic measures may have needed to be considered if the saga went on for too long.
"Obviously public safety is paramount," he said. "We obviously don't want to hurt animals if we don't have to, but we have to take public safety into consideration."
This isn't the first time that cattle have caused a ruckus on this particular stretch of I-90 that is known for numerous vehicle vs. big game collisions. Gunderson stated that several other incidents similar to this one have occurred recently in that area with farm animals. The goal when this happens is to find the owner of the animal(s) as quickly as possible so they can round them up. As seen with this most recent case though, it's not always easy.
Owners are also urgently sought out for the simple reason of law enforcement not having the resources available to forcibly remove and transport a large farm animal.
"The cowboys make it real simple," Gunderson said. "You know, we're cops. It's not so simple for some of us."
On top of everything, if cattle or other farm animals wander onto an active roadway and are responsible for damages, it's very possible that the owners could be on the hook.
"On the freeway, if you hit an 800 to 1,000 pound animal doing 70 mph, it's going to cause some damage," Gunderson said. "There's some liability that could be involved as long as they aren't in a free-range area."
Houdini's owner has since been located and she has returned home.