Rodeo Cow Escapes and Evades Capture on Alaskan Trails

By Tiffany Meier

One cow made a daring escape the night before a rodeo and has been living somewhere in the snowy hills of Alaska ever since. The cow, named Betsy, has been eluding capture for about six months. Her owner would like her back.

It all began at Anchorage’s annual Father’s Day weekend rodeo at the William C. Chamberlin Equestrian Center on Abbot Road, reported Anchorage Daily News.

Betsy was scheduled to participate in junior rodeo events. However, the night before the scheduled event, the 3-year-old cow made a mad dash for the grassy slopes of the ski area and has been evading capture ever since.

“I know deep down this cow doesn’t want to be caught,” Betsy’s owner Frank Koloski said.

More impressively, Betsy even managed to evade the Anchorage Police Department. The police employed two different drones equipped with high-definition video cameras. After about two hours of searching, the police, who aided in the search as part of a training exercise, gave up.

Flying drone.
Flying quadcopter drone. (Kaleb Kendall/Unsplash)

However, Betsy has been spotted several times. The cow has even become something of a celebrity.

“Anyone missing a cow?!?” wrote one biker.

Cross-country skiers, runners, and especially fat-tire bikers have all encountered her everywhere from Campbell Airstrip Road to Abbott Road.

“They’ll take a picture and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m not hallucinating, that is really a domesticated cow,” Koloski said.

A cow in the middle of on the east side of Anchorage. (Meg Kurtagh via AP)

However, Koloski wants to find her sooner rather than later as some social media posts have him worried. Some people have joked about hunting the cow (which is illegal) or about “free steaks,” which makes Koloski nervous, reported the Anchorage Daily News.

“The last thing I need is some yahoo out there who thinks he can kill my cow,” he said. “That cow cost me a lot of money.”

Some well-intentioned people have tried luring the cow with food, Koloski said. That’s also not a good idea, he said.

The owner said he’s spent “hours, days probably” out searching for the cow, with a rotating cast of friends and helpers.

“We’re out days. It’s nights. It’s weekends,” he said. “If we get a nice night with a full moon, we go out as a group.”

Despite all these search efforts, they’ve yet to catch Betsy.

Part of the problem is how good Betsy has it out in the forests of the Hillside, he said. There’s still plenty of grass in tree wells, where the snow hasn’t touched. Sources of fresh water are also available to the cow.

“This cow comes from an area where she’s been very self-sufficient,” he said.

While she seems to be eating fine, Koloski still leaves out salt licks and hay bales for her just in case, according to USA Today.

Koloski isn’t surprised Betsy survived the summer and the fall sharing territory with an active population of black and brown bears. He thinks she spent her time in places where bears were not, reported the Anchorage Daily News.

“I’m very hopeful,” he said. “I don’t think she’s really on a mission not to be caught, but she’s content not to be caught.”

While it’s “nothing uncommon” for a cow to be “free-ranging” in rural areas, Anchorage is different, he said. “City folk aren’t used to that,” he said.

Although Betsy seems to be acclimating to her new home, Koloski still wants her back and has devised a plan to get her back. Once he tracks her down, that is. His plan is to bring other cattle from her herd. He expects she will run toward them and he will be able to pen her in, although that may be easier said than done.

The ski resort where Betsy is likely hiding has more than 4,000 acres of land and 100 miles of trail, making her almost impossible to find, according to Koloski.

“She went on the run,” Koloski said. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”