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Llewis still at large, 2 other llamas wrangled home

It took the work of four professional livestock wranglers on horseback to bring two of the three lost llamas back to their pens
Lluka and Todd look to the horizon in search of their lost brother.

After six days of roaming, running, and revealing their resourcefulness, two of the three escaped llamas spent their first night back in their stall, but they're still restless. 

Lluka and Todd are back home and spent the morning with their owner Samantha McKay, but they've been crying out for Llewis, who escaped capture and is still on the loose. 

The three llamas went missing after a gate was left open at the farm where they are boarded on the 21st Sideroad on Nov. 10.

A dramatic week involving multiple sightings, crowds of people who meant well but spooked the llamas, a helicopter and drone search and a team of professional animal trackers, came to a climax on Thursday morning when the llamas were spotted in a field off Grey Road 2. 

Since a search and rescue team of volunteers had already been assembled and coordinated with the help of Annette Sandberg, who has decades of experience in search and rescue and hiking the area trails, they mobilized quickly but quietly to avoid spooking the llamas. 

Professional livestock wranglers on horseback (affectionately known by the volunteers as "the cowboys and cowgirls"), arrived to set up a catch pen and worked with volunteers on foot to push the llamas toward the pen. 

McKay stood in the pen with a bucket of grain. All three did get into the pen, but Llewis got wise and dropped to the ground to army crawl out of the pen and take off running. That's the last anyone has seen of him. 

Llewis still at large, and considered the brains of the operation. . Contributed photo

"He really outsmarted us ... we didn't know he was capable of moving like that," said McKay. "He's very smart, and obviously they're all scared." 

Llewis seemed to be the leader of the herd of three, and would usually be alert and looking around. He gave a short grunt if he sensed danger and it would set all three of them running. 

While McKay is glad to have two of her llamas back home, she's worried about Llewis being on his own. 

"Llamas don't like being alone, they are herd animals," said McKay. "They were strong when there were three of them, but they're weak on their own." 

The plan to bring Llewis home is to use the cries of his herdmates, Lluka and Todd, to lure him home or at least to a spot where they can see him and catch him. 

It's only a few kilometres from the place where the two llamas were caught to their home farm, so it's possible Llewis could hear Lluka and Todd's cries and walk back to them. McKay said someone is also working on making an audio loop of the two llamas and playing it in the field where they were caught in the hopes of luring Llewis to the area. 

"We're hoping that he doesn't leave the area ... and we're hoping that he hears his brothers' cries and leads himself to where his brothers are," said McKay. "He's proven himself to be very smart." 

McKay remains grateful to a very supportive community that has volunteered, some of them since the first day, to search for the llamas and help where they could with tracking and catching. 

"The community is amazing ... this story has gone viral," said McKay. "Everyone loves the story of the llamas and wants to get the llamas home. My phone's been blowing up with volunteers wanting to give their time, and you don't see that a lot these days."

While she has been given a lot of help for free from people with expertise from tracking to search and rescue, and even some people with drones, she has also had to hire professional services like a helicopter the first day, a thermal imaging drone, and livestock wranglers. 

She will also be bringing in a vet to check the llamas that are now home. She figures she's out of pocket about $10,000 at this point, plus expects to spend more to bring Llewis home. 

While she's OK to pay the money, she has also reached out for help covering the bills with a Go Fund Me campaign goal of $15,000. 

Volunteers are still welcome, but they are asked to reach out to McKay via text or phone call to 519-495-4895. She does need help finding Llewis, but asks that anyone who sees him just let her know by phone or text, and not approach him. He is the easiest spooked of the three and may be more nervous now that he's on his own. 

She is also asking people not to post sightings online via social media as it tends to draw a crowd of people who mean well, but can spook the llama by gathering. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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