Mystery on the hoof
A loose ram was on the lam Tuesday after Durham County sheriff’s deputies spent hours trying to capture the hungry animal that has surprised residents with unexpected but entertaining neighborhood visits.
The male sheep first came to the attention of deputies at 5:27 p.m. Sunday when they responded to 3228 Silver Star Drive in southern Durham after a resident called to report a ram in his backyard.
Two animal services deputies tried to capture the animal, but couldn’t even get close before it would run into woods that border the residential area, Deputy Paul Sherwin said.
They stopped trying to catch him at 7:08 p.m.
But at 8:32 a.m. Monday, they were called back to nearby 904 Odyssey Drive after getting another report of a ram loose in the area. Two animal services deputies, another deputy and a professional wildlife trapper responded and tried to catch the animal for four hours until they gave up about 12:30 p.m., Sherwin said.
A few hours later, at 3:34 p.m., deputies went to 3229 Silver Star Drive – this time with three animal services deputies, an animal services supervisor, one additional deputy and Dr. Lloyd Heron from Flat River Veterinary Hospital and a friend of his.
Sherwin said Heron was armed with a rifle that shoots tranquilizers. Deputies tried to corner the ram so that Heron could get a clear, safe shot, but the animal kept getting away.
They called it quits at 5 p.m.
“Even if we were able to successfully shoot him with the tranquilizer gun, we’re still not sure we could capture him safely,” Sherwin said. “The medication can take up to 10 minutes to have an effect, and he could run a long way before it kicks in.”
Sherwin said he was told that the animal is a Barbados Mouflon sheep.
For now, he said, deputies plan to leave the animal alone and “hope he moves on.”
He said authorities have asked a woman who lives on Odyssey Drive to stop feeding the ram, “and we hope that he will find a new area to live in.”
The ram does not appear dangerous, according to Sherwin, “but he is a wild animal and is therefore unpredictable, so we ask that people stay away from him.”
Sherwin said deputies don’t plan to spend more time on the capture effort unless the ram becomes a danger to the public.