Soon-to-be Jersey cow: Missing heifer finally captured

Jan 26, 2021

After nearly eight months on the lam in the woods of Dartmouth, a loose Westport cow has finally been recaptured and will soon be off to an animal sanctuary.

“Our cow saga is done,” Animal Control Officer Sandra Gosselin laughed. “Hopefully that’s the only one I get all year.”

According to Gosselin, the two-year-old black angus heifer named Princess hoofed it while being loaded into a trailer headed toward a slaughterhouse in June. 

After making her escape, the cow eventually found her way to what Gosselin said was “the perfect area” in a North Dartmouth orchard, with tall grass, apple and pear trees, and a nearby stream to keep hydrated.

“She actually had everything that she needed,” Gosselin said. “She’s probably going like ‘Oh no what the hell did I do coming in this trailer now?’”

Gosselin said that for the first few months, the cow was only spotted occasionally — just to disappear as soon as animal control arrived.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” she said at the time.

Then, around Christmastime, animal control got a call from a family about a black cow that had been hanging around their yard off of Old Fall River Road.

“We didn’t even know the cow was still loose then,” Gosselin said. “We actually thought [the farmer] had caught it.”

After getting the call, animal control staked out the area, trying to corral the feral Angus into a stock trailer — which Gosselin noted was no easy task.

Some nights, attempts to capture her were udder failures. The cow would enter the trailer, only to get spooked once the property owners returned home.

One night, Gosselin recalled, Princess was casually eating inside the trailer — but she “flew right out” when the animal control officer sprinted to pull the rope and trap her.

“Now I’m on the ground for 45 minutes and this cow is staring at me,” Gosselin laughed. 

In the early hours of Jan. 20, Princess finally managed to stay inside of the trailer long enough to trigger a makeshift trap consisting of a bucket filled with grain and a rope that closed her in.

Gosselin — who brought Princess to her own farm for the time being — is trying to get the Houdini heifer to a 250-acre animal sanctuary in New Jersey, noting that the Westport farmer relinquished his rights to the cow and has since moved away from the area.

Until she gets her paperwork to become a Jersey cow, Princess will remain in Dartmouth.

“This was probably one of the hardest ones I’ve tried to catch,” Gosselin said. “She was pretty smart for a cow.”