Archive for Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Where the buffalo roam

Sheriff’s office working to stem animals’ escape

December 15, 2004

It's not every day Lori Holmgren sees a herd of buffalo in her back yard.

That's why she'll long remember Sunday morning.

Holmgren was sipping her first cup of coffee when she glanced out the kitchen window and saw about 40 buffalo munching on the grass.

Holmgren and her husband, Jim, live near 199th Street and Parallel Road, about three miles northeast of Tonganoxie.

The buffalo, which live about a quarter-mile south of the Holmgrens, frequently leave their land through a broken fence.

"The neighbors had told me they'd had to call the sheriff to get the buffalo shooed away so they could get their kids on the school bus," Holmgren said.

On Sunday morning, the buffalo were not only in her yard -- they were having a fun.

"They found a muddy spot where we just put in sewer laterals and they had a buffalo party," Holmgren said brightly. "They just wallowed all over them, they seemed to be enjoying themselves."

Fine dining

Mary Boudreaux said the buffalo were in her backyard this weekend, as well. Boudreaux, who lives on Parallel Road next to her parents' house, said the buffalo frequently come over to dine on her dad's bales of hay.

"They're hungry," Boudreaux said.

And, she noted, they're a traffic hazard, explaining that when they're in the middle of the road, cars coming over the hill won't be able to see them.

Numerous complaints

Sunday morning as Lori Holmgren waited for a sheriff's deputy to come and move the buffalo out of her yard -- her neighbor, Art Miller, got there first.

Tromping toward the herd, waving a stick in his hands and shouting, Miller got them moving.

The buffalo headed back around the shed and made their pass between the swingset and the barn, then tramped through the front yard of the house next door.

That's when sheriff's deputy Mark Brown arrived. After the buffalo crossed Parallel Road and headed back to their pasture, neighbors stopped by to talk to Brown.

Bob Zink drove up and quipped, "Buffalo burgers today?"

Brown replied, "If I had my way, we would."

Ed Teets joined the group. Several months ago, he'd see one or two buffalo in his yard.

"I had 45 at my place on Saturday," Teets said.

buffalo. Neighbors are generally careful to stay out of the herd's way.

"We've had calls to the office to have officers come out to escort kids from the house to the bus," Yates said.

The owners of the buffalo, Marc and Diane Thiry, who live in Shawnee, did not answer phone calls from The Mirror on Tuesday. They are aware of the problem, Yates said.

"We're working with the prosecutor's office and we're also working with Mr. Thiry," Yates said.

A couple of options would solve the problem-- remove the buffalo, or install better fences, Yates said.

"The fence right now is insufficient to hold the animals in," Yates said.

Yates said he believed the fence where the buffalo are getting out is a single-wire electric fence.

Another concern, Yates said, is whether the buffalo are being adequately fed.

"That's a question that we have -- if there's even enough pasture and grass for them through the winter," Yates said. "Last year there were signs that they were getting fed hay -- was the hay being fed as frequently as it should have been? That's a question that we're trying to get answered."

Yates said sheriff's officers always respond to calls about the buffalo.

"It's a responsibility, to make sure the road isn't being filled with buffalo where it's going to cause a traffic hazard," Yates said. "But the liability overall lies with the property owner to some degree."

Sgt. Charlie Yates, of the Leavenworth County sheriff's office, said Tuesday that there have been numerous complaints about the

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