A black bull apparently on its way to the butcher escaped its trailer Monday in Skowhegan and led police on a 1½-hour chase before it got into the Kennebec River, swam across it and climbed a river embankment before being fatally shot by police.

The dead animal then floated down the river, tumbled over the steep falls at the power station dam and went south toward the Big Eddy in the river.

Skowhegan Police Chief David Bucknam said Monday that the 600-pound animal was acting aggressively and heading toward a crowd of about 50 people who were watching the goings-on and he had no choice but to put it down. That was around 6 p.m.

Bucknam said the animal, which was about 1½ years old, broke loose from its trailer around 4:30 p.m. near Quinn Hardware on Waterville Road and took off, running down South Factory Street to Middle Road, and crossed into the woods before going to Stevens Road and getting into a fenced-in area.

“It was on its way to the butcher, I believe, and I’m pretty sure it knew that,” Bucknam said. “It just made a break for it.”

Bucknam was following the bull from behind and as it ran to the four-way intersection by South Side Tavern, crossed the Margaret Chase Smith Bridge onto Island Avenue, took a left turn by an old mill building that houses a Chapter 11 store and ran behind the building, where it jumped into the Kennebec and swam across to Alder Street. It climbed a steep embankment west of the walking bridge known as the “swinging bridge,” the chief said.

The bull eluded Skowhegan police for more than an hour. Contributed photo

“When it came to the top of the bank, I put it down,” he said. “Unfortunately, instead of staying at the top, it slid to the river.”

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