On the shoulders of the Chugach Mountains high above Alaska’s largest city, a hunt is underway for Betsy the cow.
Many places in the U.S., this would not be news, but there are not many cows in the suburbs of Anchorage. Lots of cow moose, but almost no cows of a domestic kind.
And a cow on the loose?
No one in modern times has heard of a cow on the loose in or around the city. The first reports of one wandering Far North Bicentennial Park were greeted with the same sort reaction a report of a cow in New York’s Central Park might attract:
There was plenty of skepticism when the local public radio station in November reported that there was “wild” cow loose on the Hillside. Then a video of a feral, if not wild, cow surfaced some days before Christmas and was widely circulated.
“Apparently someone’s son almost hit it (skiing) on Spencer loop,” a popular Hillside ski trail, Anchorage skier Doug O’Harra reported on Christmas Eve.
Going into the New Year, the Anchorage Fat Bike Facebook page posted a photo of the cow with a “Happy Moo Year” greeting, and this week Betsy’s owner – Frank Koloski – emerged to ask for helping in bringing her home.
Koloski is the driving forced behind Rodeo Alaska, so it would make some sense for him to have a cow, if not a bull. He did not respond to a request for more information on Bestsy, but he did post this on the Fat Bike Facebook page on Friday:
“Good Morning fellow Fat Tire Bikers. I sincerely appreciate any feed back on any sightings of my cow.
“She has been moving around a lot on the trails and would ask for any specific location if possible . Thank you and God Bless.
Since the post went up, fat bikers have been rallying to the call. Bicentennial Park and the adjacent lands of the Bureau of Land Management, Chugach State Park and Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson are riddled with trails that now attracting signifciant numbers of winter cyclists in a community where fat biking has become an “in” thing.
The cyclists have offered various idea on how to catch the runaway cow, but Koloski, who has also been active on the website, has rejected most of them.
The problem is that Betsy is a little spooky.
“She will allow you to get only so close then she will run, and generally it’s into the woods,” he wrote.
He’s mainly been encouraging people to report up-to-the-minute sightings so he can try to capture the cow, which is lucky to be on the loose in winter.
Grizzly bears are common in the park and surrounding wild lands in summer. Wildlife biologists don’t think a cow would last long in the park if the bears were out, but they are are now in hibernation.
There is hope today social media, not to mention good old word of mouth, can help bring Betsy home. Often bad mouthed for the divisiveness it helps spread across the country, social media has been instrumental in helping bring home lots of dogs, cats and even an Anchorage donkey.