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Days into a search for a missing bull, one man keeps watch on a trap set to lure him

Mike Stura, president and founder of Skyland Animal

Mike Stura, president and founder of Skyland Animal Santuary in New Jersey, in Manorville on Thursday, July 22. Stura said he will take the Bull once they find it to his location to live with other wildlife animals. Credit: James Carbone

Meet Mike Stura, who's been camped out in Mastic practically day and night.

Stura is there to lure the runaway bull nicknamed Barney into a makeshift pen, so the animal can then be led to Stura's Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue in Wantage, New Jersey.

"I'm keeping watch of the pen I set up to see if I can nab the big kid," Stura texted from his bright blue Dodge Ram Power Wagon, where he's been waiting, and waiting some more, noshing on "some vegan goodies" and hydrating with Gatorade.

Nine days into an as-yet fruitless search for that runaway bull in the Mastic-Shirley area, a motley team of rescuers has eschewed an active search in favor of simply waiting for the animal to come to them.

"The plan is, basically, we want him to come to us. We don’t want to scare him. We don’t want to push him into the road," said Frankie Floridia, of the Strong Island Animal Rescue group. He added: "We want him to be comfortable and come into the trap."

That trap is being manned by a volunteer who specializes in wrangling such animals — Stura — Floridia said. Floridia said rescue groups will search for the bull "as long as it takes."

The bull — estimated to be 1,500 pounds and nicknamed Barney — broke free July 20 from a Moriches farm. Since his escape, the farm has agreed to surrender Barney to the animal sanctuary once he's found. Ever since, searchers have tried without success to find him, on foot and on horseback, and with helicopters, drones and thermal cameras. They have even sent out a cow in heat and set up the trap, a horse pen loaded with grain.

The police have been involved too, but despite several reported sightings of the bull, such as on the side of a road or wandering down a residential street, the animal remains on the loose.

Stura said he hasn't quite stayed 24/7, but close to it.

"I leave late at night or early in the morning when I’m pretty sure he would be bedded down for the night," Stura texted. "I did stay out here all night the other night."

Once wrangled, Barney would be loaded into a livestock trailer hooked to the Dodge.

So, what other animals would Barney join?

"Bovines (heifers, cows, bulls, steer), pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and three beautiful little donkeys," Stura texted, explaining: "We rescue the animals that people eat."

Meanwhile, the animal rights group PETA is hoping to place a billboard somewhere in the area, emailed spokeswoman Nicole Meyer: "Help Others Escape the Slaughterhouse: Go Vegan."

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