PALMYRA – There is a at least one four-legged fugitive, and possibly two, in the woods and fields bordering Interstate 95 in Palmyra.
For more than two weeks, area police and animal control officers have made repeated trips to Mile Markers 146 and 147 northbound in attempts to lure an elusive goat out of hiding – and ultimately out of danger.
The officers fear the animal or animals are in danger of starving to death if they are not captured soon, as winter weather limits their ability to graze.
“Goats are not foraging animals,” said Trooper Tammy Doyle.
The greater danger that police and ACOs fear is that the animals could cause an accident and injury to motorists. The animal that has been sighted by passing motorists, and seen by Doyle, resembles a small deer.
The latest sighting was Tuesday morning, according to Palmyra ACO Fred Campbell, who spotted the animal on one of his many trips to the site.
Doyle, an animal lover on and off duty, is on a mission to entice the animal out of hiding and to get help from the public.
Doyle has rescued animals from dire straits before. Her personal menagerie includes a recently acquired pony, two Saint Bernard dogs, a potbellied pig and goats.
Last month, Campbell received reports from motorists along I-95 that one or possibly two goats had been seen along the side of the highway.
Through an investigation, “putting two and two together,” he learned that the animals belonged to John Haskell of Pittsfield.
Haskell reportedly owns land in Detroit on the Dogtown Road, which borders Detroit and Palmyra, and is within half a mile of I-95.
When Haskell’s animals escape their pens, they “trespass” in Palmyra, according to Campbell. It is not the first time Campbell has dealt with Haskell and his animals.
Haskell could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the goats.
On her own time, and with her own money, Doyle has spent in excess of $200 feeding the escaped animal and renting a tranquilizer gun from an area animal hospital.
The average person would not be able to use the gun because of the narcotics involved, Doyle explained. As a trooper, she has that ability and would like to make another attempt to rescue the animal. The only thing stopping her is the expense involved in securing a gun.
Doyle has discussed her problem with state biologists and state veterinarian Chip Ridky, but the trooper said that they are limited by state policy in the type and amount of aid they can provide.
Doyle and her husband, also a state trooper, have taken grain and hay to the area, trying to capture the animal. Pittsfield ACO Rick Curtis also has taken grain to the area, hoping to keep the animal in the same vicinity until it can be captured.
Curtis said other people also are dropping off grain in the grassy areas between the two mile markers.
On Tuesday, Haskell was issued a written warning for allowing the goats to remain at large, according to Curtis. The warning gives Haskell 12 hours to capture the animal, the ACO said.
Doyle is more concerned about the animals’ welfare than how local authorities are dealing with the owner. She said she was willing to buy the animal from Haskell if he was not interested in capturing it.
“That’s something she will have to work out with him,” said Campbell. “Ultimately the owner can be held liable for all costs incurred in capturing the animal. I don’t know how far we will take this case.”
Anyone who sights the animals is urged to call local or state police. Campbell can be reached through the Palmyra Town Office or the Somerset County Dispatch Center.
Anyone interested in joining Doyle’s effort to capture the animal can call her at 278-2781.