Buffalo roams from its home

Carroll officials contain animal grazing for snacks

September 11, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Carroll County sheriff's deputies learned early yesterday that it takes a lot of patience to persuade a 2,200-pound buffalo to go home when it wants to go on a late-night snack attack.

No one was hurt - not even the buffalo - but officers spent several hours trying to contain the animal. Carroll deputies, state troopers, animal control officers and a local veterinarian were eventually successful, but not until after the animal had already grazed its way through Lineboro.

"We figure now they won't need to mow their lawns this weekend," said Maj. Thomas Long, a sheriff's office spokesman. "It kind of took a tour of Lineboro. When you're a 2,200- pound buffalo, you go wherever you want to go."

Authorities said the buffalo roamed away from the rest of a herd - 110 in all - that lives at the Twin Springs Farm in Manchester. Owned by Martin Construction company owner Martin P. Hill, the farm specializes in selling bison meat at an on-site market four days a week.

Hill told police the missing buffalo attempted to jump a 7-foot metal pasture gate, but crushed the gate and escaped.

"It's been a while since we had a loose buffalo - I'm guessing 15 years - but they're a little bit notorious to be harder to restrain than cattle," said Nicky Ratliff, executive director of the Humane Society of Carroll County. "They can go right over a 5-foot fence, but they might be better off plowing it down. People think they're slow or unathletic. They're neither when they want to be."

A motorist passing through Lineboro at 3:30 a.m. flagged down Cpl. Russell Fritz, who was patrolling Route 30 north of Manchester, and told Fritz that she had spotted a buffalo walking down Main Street, also known as Route 86.

When Fritz arrived, he found a fully-grown male buffalo grazing in the playground area of a day care center. When Fritz called dispatchers, a Westminster police officer monitoring the call suggested that the buffalo probably belonged to Hill.

Hill acknowledged ownership of the animal and alerted the officer to the damage it had done when it escaped. Authorities found out later that the animal had wandered through woods, back yards, side streets and alleys.

Fritz, joined by another deputy and several state troopers, attempted to herd the animal to a nearby pasture, but the buffalo had other ideas.

Eventually, officers coaxed the buffalo to a nearby fenced-in meadow using something that obviously appealed to the animal: food.

It only took 2 1/2 hours.

According to the owners, the buffalo was home by yesterday afternoon.

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