Seen any bull in the county lately?
A lot of bull has been roaming freely in our community lately.
And officials are sometimes ill-equipped to do much about it.
Just two weeks ago, local law enforcement didn’t seem to have much of a chance.
The chase was on in the darkness off the Natchez Trace Parkway at nearly midnight.
A dispatcher notified on-call deputies at approximately 11:35 p.m. that a black bull was loose on McGehee Road near the intersection with Emerald Mound Road.
A deputy located the bull — which clearly had better cover in the darkness than his proverbial cousin in the china shop — and went after him, only to report back to the dispatcher soon after that the bull seemingly went back to the place from which he had escaped and disappeared into the woods.
Tuesday, officials were alerted again to a similar problem while the sun was starting to fade.
Communications on the police radios picked up by the scanner in our office indicated there were some worries.
“Does the bull have horns, or no horns?” the radio awkwardly squawked.
Livestock calls have increased significantly in recent years, Sheriff Chuck Mayfield has said several times. Blame it on, what else, the economy.
“A lot has to do with economic situation and the cost of feeding these animals,” Mayfield said a year ago. “I think some are getting out, tearing down fences, or people are just leaving fences down.”
The county uses several volunteer wranglers who do much of the work corralling the animal after a deputy finds it. Those wranglers are allowed to recoup their time and expenses by charging the owner to reclaim the animal.
But, in tough economic times, many residents simply let the bull, horse or cow go instead of paying the fee. That leaves the wranglers with little reason to respond when the ACSO calls at midnight.
The result? Loose bulls.
But ask any police dispatcher, and you’ll find out that bull comes in all shapes and sizes and typically with two legs, not four.
It’s a bit of a hobby for our newsroom employees — and our counterparts around the world, I know — to listen not just for the serious news on our office police scanner but for the crazy bull, too.
I should have started writing all the crazy tales down years ago, but thankfully, someone else had the idea, too.
There’s a Facebook page, occupied mostly by journalists, called “Newsroom Scanner Quotes.”
Reporters around the country add the funniest lines from their community to create quite the running tally of American bull.
A few of my favorites from recent months:
“I’m out with one who’s peeing on my patrol car.”
“He got shot in the toe two days ago, and he’s not waking up today. They haven’t had it treated. He also took a shot to the head.”
“Caller says he’s stuck on the toilet and can’t get off.”
Of course, there are also the unexplained moments on the police scanner that make us chuckle, and sometimes call for more information. The best one from Natchez of late was most likely a misunderstanding, though it clearly sounded as if the dispatcher was sending officers to search for a man running “with two heads.”
Most of what our law enforcement officials do is serious business. For that, we appreciate them day in and day out.
They also earn respect, in minds of newspaper reporters, for dealing with the bull.
Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or email@example.com.