CLINTON — Police are interviewing people as they continue to investigate the release of hundreds of cows at a local farm, a case that’s drawn nationwide attention and the interest of the FBI.

Police Chief Stanley Bell said his department has conducted a series of interviews in an effort to find more information after hundreds of dairy cows were released from their holding pen at the end of November. The incident — which occurred at the Misty Meadow Farm either late on Nov. 29 or early in the morning Nov. 30 — resulted in about 150 cows wandering out of their holding pen. The cows were discovered by farm workers and returned to their pens.

Then, hours later, an estimated 500 cows were released from their pen. One cow fell into a drainage hole and snapped its neck. All told, there are 1,500 cows on the farm.

Bell said police have conducted five or six interviews, some with people of interest in the incidents, and some with people who might know the people involved.

“We didn’t necessarily know when we started who was of interest and who was friend of a person of interest,” Bell said.

The incident at Misty Meadows garnered a lot of attention and even drew the interest of the FBI, which offered its assistance in the investigation in case the incidents were linked to actions of environmental extremists. Clinton police didn’t think the incidents were related to those groups, however.

“They just gave us their information and said if we needed their help and input, even if it didn’t directly tie to eco-terrorism, they’re more than happy to help,” Bell said.

Bell said his department is still working under the assumption that whoever released the cows from Misty Meadows — and also whoever vandalized the neighboring Wright Place Farm that same night — are juveniles or people in their late teenage years. In some interviews, they needed the permission of parents to speak with interviewees under the age of 18.

“We haven’t been able to find anyone who would say anything different,” he said.

Bell said police will continue conducting interviews, and they have more scheduled already.

In addition to the cows being released at Misty Meadows, a stainless steel cooling tank filled with milk had been shut off. The tanks were turned back on and the milk was saved, but it could have been a $10,000 loss. The cow that died was valued at $2,000 to $2,500. Additionally, items were stolen from a nearby garage, and a window of a tractor was broken. At the Wright Place Farm, no cows were released, but there was evidence of vandalism. The Clinton Police Department posted about the incident on its Facebook page on Dec. 1.

Bell said police don’t think the Clinton cases are related to a similar incident in a nearby town. In China, cows were released from their holding pen at Meadowbrook Farm on Stanley Hill Road. The owner of that farm, Mike Brown, discovered a number of Black Angus had been released from their pen and had made their way onto the public road. It took him close to an hour to get all the livestock back into their pen. Also, a padlock on a fence was broken at the nearby McPherson Farm on Maple Ridge Road. Those cases are being investigated by the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

“At this time we’re not thinking that they’re connected, unless we can connect names or connect dots, but I really don’t think they are,” Bell said.

Bell said they had been hoping to “get people talking” sooner, but he thinks because of how large and connected the dairy community is in Clinton, the suspects were less inclined to talk or brag about their involvement in the incidents.

“The people may have realized they were better off not talking,” Bell said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

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Twitter: @colinoellis