Buffalo to remain at area ranch; agreement reached on care issue
The owners of 35 buffalo on a farm east of Tonganoxie have agreed that caretakers will feed and look after the animals this winter.
Marc and Diane DeFries Thiry, who own Stranger Creek Ranch about two miles east of town, have signed the agreement, in hopes of avoiding prosecution, according to their attorney, Ted Lickteig.
In May, sheriff's officers seized 17 horses, one donkey and 42 small animals from the property.
The buffalo, however, remained behind.
"It's my understanding that later in the year, they're going to be looking at other alternatives for the buffalo, that there's somebody else who would like to take them over," said Roger Marrs, Leavenworth County deputy county attorney.
"We wanted to make sure they got through the winter in good shape and we didn't have any problems with the buffalo."
The Thirys have relinquished ownership of the other animals, most of which were found in a house and barn on the property, Marrs said. At the time the animals were removed from the property, officials said the smell of animal feces and urine, as well as dead animals, was overpowering in the house and barn.
All of the small animals and some of the horses have been adopted, Marrs said.
"So it's just a matter of trying to resolve the legal ramifications," he said. "We've been trying to work with them. It's taken a lot longer to resolve some of the issues, the care of the buffalo being one of them. There's a lot of expense involved in having to take care of animals that are their responsibility to take care of."
So among the issues that still must be resolved is compensation for the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, which took over care of the animals that were seized.
No charges have been filed against the couple. And Marrs said that if any cruelty to animals charges were filed, they would be filed only against Marc Thiry.
"We're not looking at charging Mrs. Thiry because we don't have basis to do that," he said. "We don't have any evidence that she was aware of the state the animals were in out there."
According to the Thirys' attorney, the caretakers will provide written reports twice a month to his clients and the county attorney's office. The Thirys are paying the caretakers, Lickteig said.
"Under the circumstances, I think it's going to serve everybody's interests," he said. "It's an agreement that's easily performable and I don't anticipate any problem with it being performed. My clients are satisfied with the people they've hired to do this and confident they'll do what they're supposed to do in the agreement."
The agreement is part of a plan, Lickteig said, that would prevent prosecution against Marc Thiry.
"I'd rather not discuss the merits of what might transpire if they were to prosecute," he said. "That's why we're doing this."