Roaming buffalo eats up police officers’ day
Animal escapes pasture east of Tonganoxie; wanders near subdivisions for about 6 hours
Tonganoxie police officers spent the better part of Thursday keeping an eye not on motorists, but on a buffalo.
From about 11:30 a.m. until evening, police officers, with the assistance of Leavenworth County sheriff's officers earlier in the day, worked buffalo patrol on Tonganoxie's east side.
The bull buffalo, which escaped from Diane and Marc Thiry's property east of Tonganoxie, had roamed west toward the Jackson Heights and Stone Creek subdivisions.
Late in the morning, the buffalo grazed in the shade of a round haybale, chomping grass and pulling hay from the bale.
Then, oblivious to the police and sheriff's officers watching through binoculars, the American Bison decided it was time for a mid-day nap. He lay down on the ground and even kicked his hooves in the air as he scratched his back in the dirt.
Though the buffalo painted a picturesque scene, by late afternoon, officers were weary of its escapades.
Tonganoxie Police Chief Kenny Carpenter said his goal was to herd the buffalo away from houses and roads.
"It probably got within 100 yards of a house a couple of times," Carpenter said.
He noted that in the country it's not uncommon for livestock to wander.
He was concerned because of the numerous houses in the area.
"You get something like that (a buffalo) out in a housing addition and you don't know how it's going to react to kids and cars," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said he didn't know when the owner was notified the buffalo was loose. At about 4:30 p.m., Marc Thiry contacted the county and said he'd take care of the buffalo in the evening.
By 5:30 p.m., officers had herded the buffalo into a fenced pasture and shut a gate behind it.
"It was walking at a brisk pace towards home," Carpenter said. "We called it good to go. We felt pretty confident that it wouldn't get back in the housing addition."
The roundup took up most of the work day for Carpenter and Sgt. Billy Adcox. At 3 p.m., another police officer joined in, soon followed by two part-time officers.
Carpenter said the buffalo's escape probably cost the police department about $300, and it prevented officers from patrolling the rest of town.
"We had nobody on the streets," Carpenter said. "We were all there."
Carpenter said he was going to talk to City Administrator Mike Yanez to see if the Thirys could be asked to reimburse the city for the police department's time.
Monday morning, Yanez said he didn't know enough about the situation to say if that was a possibility.
Meanwhile, Yanez and Carpenter noted the city has no ordinance that applies to buffalo running loose.
"I don't think we have any ordinances that cover it," the chief said. "It doesn't fall under the loose dog ordinance."
Good naturedly, Yanez agreed.
"We probably ought to create one," Yanez quipped. "No pit bulls, no buffalo."