Archive for Sunday, May 10, 2015

Some Tonganoxie residents unhappy with roaming buffalo

May 10, 2015

— Buffalo that have roamed a pasture east of Tonganoxie in Leavenworth County for 10 to 15 years are starting to annoy some of their neighbors.

Passers-by have enjoyed watching the herd when it stays within the 140 rolling acres of pasture dotted with dense brush and cedar trees along U.S. 24/40.

Lately, however, some of the herd has wandered from the pasture and last week, two of the buffalo were killed when they were hit by a tractor-trailer truck. The driver was not hurt.

The Kansas City Star reports that was the latest in a recent string of escapes.

"They're a pain in the butt," said Kim Musick, who lives near the property. "I love them. They're beautiful animals, but they're a pain in the butt."

A few weeks ago, Musick was walking her dog before dawn at a nearby housing subdivision when she saw several dark, hulking shapes that she thought were pieces of construction equipment. Until they moved.

Five of the animals, which can weigh up to a ton, were loose and grazing with nothing between them and Musick.

"It was a sight to see early in the morning," she said. "Thank God my little dog didn't start barking."

Neighbors aren't sure how many animals are kept on the property but estimates range from 10 to 20. The property owners do not live on the land.

Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau said his department has received at least three reports of escaped buffalo in the last month. He said the property owners have tried to fix breaches in the fence but it's hard to keep such large and agile animals contained.

Buffalo can run as fast as 35 to 40 mph. Brandau said he's been told they can jump as high as 6 feet.

"If they want out, it's going to take something to stop them," he said.

The property owners could face civil penalties and be liable for property damage caused by the animals but no criminal penalties exist for those whose animals escape from a fenced-in area.

It was fortunate that Monday's accident happened where there is a slower speed limit and not outside Tonganoxie were the speed limit is 65 mph, said Maj. Jim Sherley of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's office.

Sherley said he has seen all types of animals get loose and be struck by vehicles.

"Buffalo are a little bit more obstinate," he said. "It's a unique experience for patrol deputies. You don't see it on an episode of 'Cops'."

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