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Searchers: No bull sightings, but 'Barney' probably hasn't left area

The runaway bull, now called "Barney," is seen

The runaway bull, now called "Barney," is seen on Montgomery Avenue in Mastic on Tuesday morning. Credit: SCPD

If only Barney, Long Island's runaway bull, were more like the star of that famous children's book, "The Story of Ferdinand," and willing to laze quietly smelling flowers under a tree in a field.

Instead, the 1,500-pound bull remains elusive and in hiding, last seen Friday, according to his pursuers, who have been searching for him since he escaped from a fenced-in farm in Moriches last Tuesday.

"We still think he's in the same area," animal rescuer John DiLeonardo of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature said Monday, reaffirming his belief the bull remains in an area of dense underbrush in Mastic-Shirley.

"But," DiLeonardo said, "there's a lot of acreage back there."

And that, he said, has made it difficult for anyone to track the wayward bull.

On Monday, Suffolk County police confirmed there have been no updates in the search for Barney, the name given the young bull since his escape from a farm on Barnes Road. There has been a host of internet traffic claiming sightings as far away as Stony Brook, although officials have said most are just a bum steer.

"We think he hasn't gotten that far," DiLeonardo said. "And, we still have a few [volunteers] manning the corral we've got set up."

As another would-be rescuer, Frankie Floridia of Strong Island Animal Rescue, said over the weekend: "Stony Brook? No way."

The bull could not travel so far so fast, Floridia said, adding it just doesn't make horse-sense and that he will believe it only when he sees proof.

So far searchers have tried to track Barney the Bull on foot and on horseback, with helicopters and drones and thermal cameras. Searchers even sent out a cow in heat and set up a horse pen loaded with grain. But Barney has eluded all efforts, including, Floridia said, an attempt to track him with cellular night vision cameras.

Rescuers hope to bring Barney, once nabbed, to a sanctuary.

A Southampton restaurateur, Michael Pitsinos of the Capri Hotel and restaurant NAIA, said he would help fund the stay for the rest of the animal’s life, according to spokesman Bruce Lynn. In a statement Saturday, Pitsinos said: "The bull is remarkable, showing great tenacity, a love for life, even eluding authorities."

With Matthew Chayes

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