Baby buffalo still roaming the area
Animal rights activists work to rescue calf
By Julia Green
The great Margaretville area buffalo hunt continued this week as local animal rights representatives and law enforcement officials attempt to corral an orphaned buffalo calf that has been roaming alone since its mother was shot last Monday in the Bull Run Valley area.
The calf is reportedly one of a number of the animals that escaped from a farm in the Bloomville area in late April.
The calf, which has been identified as a female of about two months of age, has been the object of much fascination on the part of local residents, and the subject of a fair amount of concern as well. While authorities continue to work to capture the calf and transport it to a home where it can live out its natural life, there is a growing concern that attempts are still being made to kill it and other buffalo that may still be roaming.
The last confirmed sighting of the calf was on Friday night, when a group of unidentified people were seen chasing it on four-wheeled ATVs in the vicinity of Bull Run Road, although there were unconfirmed sightings as late as Monday afternoon.
“We need to get the word out: stop trying to catch it,” said Denise Norris, a volunteer with Equine Rescue Resources. “It’s scared. If you see it, don’t try catching it, just call the troopers and they’ll call us. We know what we’re doing. Ideally, we want to just protect the animal.”
Volunteers who have been actively engaged in attempting to capture the calf alive have deferred to Don Tweedie, who has a buffalo farm in Walton.
“We are a horse rescue, not a buffalo rescue,” said Colleen Segarra, director of Equine Rescue Resource in Pine Bush. “We don’t have the capacity to physically help, but we did a little research and found a gentleman named Don Tweedie of Walton who has experience with buffalo. We wanted to help, and in order to help we had to find the right people who could do the job.
“We’re only involved because we were advised there are no large animal rescues in the area. This is kind of unusual for us, but at the same time we didn’t want to hear that there was a baby calf being chased on an ATV and being shot.”
Segarra added that Tweedie said he needed help in order to capture the animals, and requested that people let him know where the buffalo are located and that people not approach or chase the animals. He also said that he needs a veterinarian who can provide him with a dart gun and tranquilizer.
“Mr. Tweedie has a buffalo farm, and he did have experience in the past with buffalo that got loose and he did capture them, so he’s had to deal with a similar situation,” Segarra said. “His was more contained because he addressed it immediately, whereas here he’s trying to correct a situation someone else created.”
Responsibility for and ownership of the animals have yet to be determined.
“If you chase them, there’s a possibility they can turn or chase you back,” Segarra said. “People need to call in and let Mr. Tweedie handle it. From everybody I’ve talked to, he is the only one I believe is qualified to handle this situation. He’s the only one with experience.”
“If people want to help search, that’s great, but what we want to do is make sure we don’t get everyone trying at once and hurting the animal.” Norris said. “They are herd animals. This one’s mother has been killed, it’s on its own and is looking to bond.”
The calf is estimated to weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. While cattle will stop when lassoed, a bison will keep pulling and can damage its trachea and/or crush its larynx.
“None of them should have been shot, that’s ridiculous,” said Margaretville resident Suze Skovsende, who witnessed the calf attempting to escape the 4-wheeler pursuit and who has been working with volunteers to capture the calf. “A bunch of crazy people with 4-wheelers and guns – that gives everybody in this area a bad name. Stop harassing her – she’s hot and stressed. It’s like us running around in a fur coat.
“She’s on her own and trying to stay away from people because she’s scared. There’s 150 pounds there of ‘don’t touch me.’”
“When dealing with a prey animal, there’s a time to follow, not chase, and a time to redirect, not block,” said Dan McCarthy, another volunteer with a large animal rescue organization. “If these concepts are not understood, then it’s time to call in a rescue organization with the experience to help.”
Other pairs of the mammals have reportedly been sighted in Downsville and in Andes, near the Perch Lake area. Both pairs of bison are purportedly mothers with calves.
People who spot the calf or any other buffalo are asked to contact the state police directly and to provide accurate and timely details on the location of the sighting.
Authorities have emphasized that the chasing and/or lassoing of the animals is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, as cited in the New York State Cruelty to Animals law.
Reports that the DEC had given permission for the animals to be shot have been refuted, as the DEC has no jurisdiction over the animals.