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Farmer: Most of escaped Schoharie County bison found, but still not caught

Farmer: Most of escaped Schoharie County bison found, but still not caught

Grupp: 60 bison located near farm
Farmer: Most of escaped Schoharie County bison found, but still not caught
Above is an American bison similar to those that got loose this weekend from a Sharon Springs farm.
Photographer: ShutterStock image

SHARON SPRINGS - Brian Grupp, the owner of West Creek Buffalo Co., says he has found about 60 of his 75 missing bison, which escaped his ranch over the weekend.

Now he said it's just a matter of getting them to come home. 

"We've made contact with about 60 of them [Tuesday]," Grupp said. "We've been monitoring their movements. Right now they're about a mile and a half from home."

On July 25, New York state troopers received a complaint from a farmer on Honey Hill Road in Roseboom. The farmer told police that a herd of American bison, often referred to as buffalo, were eating the farmer's second cutting hay still growing in the fields, resulting in no forage that could be harvested. They were also eating first cutting round bales of hay. 

An investigation by troopers revealed the bison herd — approximately 75 bison, including three bulls and 45 calves, half of those calves being young bulls — had escaped from West Creek Buffalo Co. when a bull broke a gate at the farm. 

Trooper Aga Dembinska, the public information officer for New York State Troop C, said the bison were gone when state troopers arrived on the scene. She said Tuesday the state police have not located any of the missing bisons. 

In 2015 a small herd of 15 escaped bison from a farm in the town of Schodack ultimately ended up on the New York State Thruway, where they shot and killed by gunmen hired by their owner. 

Dembinska said state police have no authority to euthanize the bison unless the owner were to approve it, which hasn't happened in this case. She said the bison are not considered dangerous to the public while in the wilderness.

She said options are limited when it comes to catching bison. Tranquilizers are often ineffective except in high doses, and then the animals — the largest indigenous land mammals in North America — are difficult to transport once unconscious. She said state troopers are working with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation on strategies for how to deal with the escaped herd.

"The owner himself has tried to build a couple of corrals in areas where they have been seen, hoping to corral them and funnel them back towards the farm," she said. 

Grupp said he's hopeful he can recapture his herd. 

"We're going to try to continue to make contact with them every day and feed them, and slowly move them closer," he said. 

A phone interview with Grupp was then abruptly cut off. He did not return phone calls seeking additional comment.

Anyone who sees a buffalo should not approach it, but contact the owner at 518-588-1402 or the state police in Richfield Springs at 315-858-1122, state police said.

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