The search for wayward bison in Schoharie County was nearing its end Monday with one returned over the weekend and one still unaccounted for, Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said.
The other nine, Desmond said, were killed by people hired by the farm owner to find them. Killing the animals, searchers have said, was to be the last resort.
The animals are being processed into food, Desmond said.
“Right now, I feel the danger has passed,” said Desmond, whose department monitored the search but was not involved in dispatching the animals.
Desmond said his last update came Sunday evening, with the one smaller bison still to be found and the other one returning. Officials earlier said a 12th bison escaped, but soon returned.
The main worry through the ordeal, Desmond said, was that the bison would pose a danger to people, mainly cars. The concern was that they would get onto roads, including nearby Interstate 88, and be hit and injure anyone in the car.
The 11 bison escaped from the Grumpy Buffalo Farm in Richmondville Aug. 19. Searchers combed fields and woods in the days after trying to locate them.
It ended up being an involved operation, with efforts made to find and tranquilize them or to use movable pens to corral them if they were found. Those efforts, though, proved unsuccessful.
There was even deference given to the weather, with cooler temperatures favored for tranquilizing them.
The animals were being raised for meat.
Desmond on Monday said his understanding is that the animals are being used and processed. “They weren’t wasted,” he said.
Tim Hines and his wife, owners of the Grumpy Buffalo Farm, have been raising the bison for about four years. At the time of the escape, they had 35 head.
Hines did not return calls for comment Monday.