There have been search teams on foot and on horseback, helicopters, drones, thermal cameras. Searchers have even sent out a cow in heat.
Nothing, so far, has worked.
Nearly 72 hours after a 1,500-pound bull escaped from a Moriches farm, he remained on the loose Friday morning, according to Suffolk police.
Thursday's game plan, after the cow's presence failed to entice the bull into the open, included continued efforts to appeal to the bovine's appetites. Frankie Floridia of Strong Island Animal Rescue had said next up was to put up a huge horse pen near the site where the bull was last seen in the Mastic-Shirley area, and load it with grain.
"Grain to a bull would be like dessert, a treat, like ice cream to you or me," Floridia said. "We're hoping that works."
Unfortunately it didn't. And a police chopper search to locate the bull midday came up empty as well after a reported sighting.
For days, Suffolk County police officers, a search team with Floridia and other Strong Island members, as well as a group attached to John DiLeonardo and his Long Island Orchestrating for Nature [LION], wandered dense underbrush in the Mastic-Shirley area in search of the bull, now nicknamed "Barney."
Floridia described the bull, which broke through a fence Tuesday morning at a farm on Barnes Road, as young, fast and with a dark coat that has blended into the surroundings, especially at night.
Residents have spotted Barney in open fields and, along with police, took photos of him as he walked across front yards, or stood motionless for a moment, before wandering back into the woods and out of sight.
Floridia's group took to Facebook to solicit "all horse people" to provide livestock panels — "preferably with a gate" — to secure the bull if he were to be lured in by the promise of a meal.
Rescuers said they hope to have the bull moved to a sanctuary to live out his days, assuming they can catch him.
"We've tried luring him with a cow, with horses," Floridia said. "I'm out here with a [tranquilizer gun], looking for him, and I'm thinking, 'I'm hunting cows in an Indiana Jones movie.' It's just frustrating. The longer it goes, you wonder what happens."
The dense underbrush, with pine barrens and other close-growing vegetation, has been a huge hindrance to the search, Floridia said.
"In some areas the weeds are higher than my head," he said. "There's divots and rivers and marsh. You're walking fine one second, the next you've lost a shoe. It's amazing and tough going and it's made it all harder."
Though Floridia won't give an exact location of the search, for fear of attracting onlookers, he said it's within a half-mile "in all directions" of populated areas and not far from Sunrise Highway.
"I'm not afraid of him being aggressive to humans," Floridia said. "He doesn't have horns, he's not an aggressive animal. I think he's going to see people and he's going to run away. I'm just afraid, with the color of his coat, he's going to wander into a road in the dark and some driver won't see him."
Floridia said he's also afraid the young bull will find a spot in the dense underbrush and opt to stay there, out of reach to his pursuers.
Said Floridia: "He's just at a point where he just wants to eat, drink and hang out. … He finds a place where he's comfortable? We might not see him till October."
With Matthew Chayes, Joan Gralla and Steve Langford