While llamas may not be known for their cross-country running, three of them have been keeping a few steps ahead of the humans trying to bring them home.
Three llamas – Lluka, Llewis and Todd – got loose from their enclosure on 21st Sideroad by accident on the morning of Friday, Nov. 10. They board at a farm at Victoria Corners, near Blue Mountain Veterinary Clinic.
They've been roaming ever since, keeping together and enjoying the vegetation and shelter of the Loree Forest. Their owner, Samantha McKay, has been leading the search for her animals, spending all the daylight hours outdoors trying to find them.
In an interview with CollingwoodToday on Sunday night, McKay gushed over the local community and the support they've shown to her as a new resident. However, she is asking people to avoid searching for the animals at this time while a designated team works to calm the llamas so they can be caught.
"The community is amazing," said McKay, noting there have been dozens who have reached out.
"There is a search-and-rescue team in place and I have faith they will be home soon," McKay wrote in a Facebook post.
Lluka, Llewis and Todd are McKay's pets. She spends mornings and evenings with them, and one day hopes to open a llama walking business that would allow people to take walks while leading the llamas on halters.
She's owned Lluka since January 2022, and Llewis and Todd joined the herd in October 2023. Llamas have been used by livestock farmers as guardian animals as they can defend themselves and other animals against predators.
The llamas seem to be sticking to the Loree Forest and trail area.
On Nov. 14, the Bruce Trail Conservancy announced the Len Gertler Memorial side trail in Loree Forest is closed temporarily in order to help the team capture the llamas.
"Llamas can be scared by people and dogs and this temporary closure will make it easier to retrieve them," the conservancy stated on its website.
Earlier this week, McKay was nearly close enough to Lluka to put his halter on, however he noticed the other two llamas walking a different direction and he pulled away from McKay "with 280 pounds of force."
She urged people to call or text her at 519-495-4895 if they spot the llamas, but said people should not approach them, as they've been spooked a lot lately.
To that end, the search team is also asking people not to post sightings online and not to go looking for the llamas. The more they get spooked, the further away they have been venturing.
Currently, McKay is only looking for assistance with sightings, which should be texted to her, but she may need more volunteers later.
"Updates will be provided as I know more," she wrote on Facebook. "The outpouring of support means so much. Thank you."
Kickin' Back Alpaca Ranch, where McKay boards two alpacas she owns, has also been involved in the search and rescue efforts, providing updates via Facebook as well.
Town of The Blue Mountains bylaw officers have also been helping with the search effort. The town's communications manager, Tim Hendry, confirmed bylaw officers worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to post signs closing the portion of the trail where the llamas were spotted. Bylaw staff were also on-site to speak with visitors to let them know about the closure.