Meteor the yak

A escaped yak was spotted outside the Nelson County Farm Bureau. Photo by Laura Cooper.

UPDATE: Meteor -- the yak from Buckingham who escaped en route to the butcher Sept. 10 and is loose in Nelson County -- has yet to be caught as of Tuesday morning, according to Nelson County Animal Control Office Kevin Wright.

Wright said he received calls about sightings as recent as Monday morning in the Lovingston area, within a five- to six-mile radius of where the yak originally made a run for it. Wright said he got with the owner, Robert Cissell, and a veterinarian Monday after lunch to try and safely get Meteor back.

However, after two failed attempts to safely take Meteor down with tranquilizer, the yak still is roaming the mountains surrounding Lovingston. 

"We got close, but we couldn’t get it. I think the coat is so thick so the tranquilizer isn’t getting into it. We chased that thing until almost 8 p.m," Wright said. 

Wright said on Tuesday morning, they are re-grouping and trying to think of different avenues for safely securing the yak and keeping the public safe. Wright said it's stayed out of the road area and staying mostly in the mountains. It is not a public safety concern right now.

"As far as outright taking the animal out, that's not an option. We are going to have to think outside the box on this one," Wright said. 

EARLIER: Meteor landed in just the right county.

Nelson County resident Vanessa Miller Turner on Friday offered Meteor the yak sanctuary.

“If any yak can escape slaughter, it deserves to live in peace,” Miller Turner said.

Miller said she has more than 10 acres of land in the Beech Grove area where she has cattle, goats, dogs and cats. Miller Turner said many of the animals she owns are rescues so Meteor’s story resonated with her.

Meteor came to her attention Thursday after Richmond vegan Lindgren Johnson, an animal lover, reached out to her.

After reading about his escapades Johnson said she wanted to help.

“I just thought you do what you can to help so when I saw he escaped slaughter, I just wanted to help,” Johnson said, explaining why she tracked down Miller Turner.

Meteor’s owner Robert Cissell was transporting Meteor from Buckingham to the market Tuesday when Meteor decided otherwise. He escaped, making his way down Front Street in Lovingston and eventually wandering into the mountains to evade capture.

Nelson County Animal Control responded to a call regarding livestock in the road near U.S. 29 in Lovingston at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Cissell and animal control officers have been trying to lure Meteor home for days now.

Since Meteor’s escape made the news, Cissell said he’s received calls from various media outlets.

“I think a lot of people think it’s a grand adventure, but don’t think about the family with a small farm trying to make a living. At this point, it’s looking like he won’t go to the butcher but we do want to get him home safe,” Cissell said.

Wendie Fines, who runs Harmony Hill Bed and Breakfast in Nelson, said the humor in having a yak on the lam in Nelson, narrowly avoiding death, has lost its appeal. It’s a safety concern for residents in the area now.

“This animal has been running loose for four days,” Fines said Friday. “We love Nelson County. It looks like we are being irresponsible.”

Fines went on to say livestock in the road is dangerous to anyone driving through and while she saw the humor is a yak loose at first, it’s been going on too long.

On Thursday Laura Cooper, with the Nelson County Farm Bureau, said she saw the animal when she was headed to her car in the parking lot Tuesday.

“A man yelled, ‘Watch the cow,’ and then I see a yak out there,” Cooper said.

Meteor eventually crossed U.S. 29, which Cooper said was pretty dangerous, and ended up being spotted around Orchard House Bed and Breakfast. The bed and breakfast posted a few photos and a video of the escapee to its Facebook page after noticing it wandering the grounds at about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Cissell said they are continuing to work with Nelson County Animal Control, the sheriff’s office, and a veterinarian in the area to locate Meteor.

“He’s a great looking animal, but he’s not a pet. Don’t try to approach him. He won’t approach you; he’s in a strange environment so it’s best to call the sheriff’s office if you do see him,” Cissell said.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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