A herd of bison broke loose from a rural Steuben County farm Sunday afternoon, and after several days, only a few still remain on the lam.
The Steuben County Sheriff’s Department said several bison escaped from a fenced-in area of the Pleasant Lake Buffalo Farm at 1460 E. Johnson Lake Road, east of Pleasant Lake. Farm owner Cathy Sanders told NewsChannel 15 that 58 bison had breached a fence and were roaming on the property.
Sanders said she discovered the bison had gotten out when she got home from work Sunday. She said the bison are in mating season and she suspected the bulls were fighting and broke a fence down.
The Sanders worked throughout Monday to corral the animals, the sheriff’s department said. The couple said “extensive efforts” were underway to ensure the safety of the public as they work to contain and return the herd safely.
A plane was being used to spot the bison by air. A portable corral had been brought in to get the animals into cattle wagons.
The Sanders said eight bison had returned by 2 p.m. Monday but the rest – 50 – were still roaming. By Tuesday afternoon, nine had been returned to a stable. Four more were returned Wednesday.
Early Thursday, then, co-owner Mary Ann Shaefer told WANE-TV that a group of seven bison wandered back into their pasture, followed a half-hour later by a herd of 25-30 bison – joining the already 19 in the pasture.
The search for the missing bison has captivated the area most of the week, after the Hamilton Police Department first issued an alert about the loose bison, telling the public to “USE EXTREME CAUTION” because there were “numerous buffalo loose” in the area. In a Facebook post, the department wrote that the animals “are NOT FRIENDLY and should NOT be approached as they can become aggressive.”
The post was shared nearly 1,000 times within 12 hours.
The sheriff’s department told NewsChannel 15 later Monday there was no threat the public, however. The Sanders asked that the public avoid the area, and said drivers should use “extreme care” while driving near Johnson Lake Road, west of C.R. 100 East to 200 East.
Johnson Lake Road was closed to traffic in the area.
Pleasant Lake Buffalo Farm sells bison meat, Cathy Sanders said. The Sanders farm 300 acres there.