SELKIRK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A herd of buffalo was killed Friday after it was slowly picked off by riflemen, then officials.
The buffalo escaped from Gem Farms — a farm which raises buffaloes for their meat — near Bethlehem, New York. Originally they were running through a rural area, but the buffalo continued over the Hudson river and crossed over the Thruway into a residential area.
“It became a public safety issue,” one official said. “We had them in a rural area, but once they rushed our members and crossed over…there was nothing we could do.”
Police and officials in the area were tracking the buffalo and say the owner of the farm made the call to exterminate the animals. The farm owners hired four riflemen to kill the buffalo, but police say they took issue with how the situation was handled.
They said in a press conference after the buffalo had been put down that the four riflemen were firing uncontrollably into the herd and inhumanely putting down the animals. The sheriff there detained at least one of the gunman before he said they completed the task in a more humane way.
“It was a decision we did not take lightly, but it came to a point where we thought someone was going to get hurt,” Sheriff Craig Apple said.
Police said they weren’t the ones to make the final call to exterminate the buffalo, and they did it with a heavy heart. The sheriff there said it also wasn’t possible to use tranquilizers on the animals, as they are large animals and it’s not easy to administer the right amount of tranquilizers in the short range necessary.
“It was a decision the owners made,” the official said. “It wasn’t possible to corral them.”
Apple said the rifleman he had detained hadn’t been charged yet, but the situation will take a while to sort out.
“I understand they had to be put down, they had to do what they had to do, but it got to a point where it was out of control,” he said.
Apple compared the situation as a shooting gallery and the “wild wild west.” At least 15 buffalo were killed near Onesquethaw Creek.
“We’re going to sit back and sort this mess out,” the sheriff said.
There are no wild buffalo in that area; photos shared with News 4’s sister station News10 in Albany by viewers show tags on the animal’s ears. Owners of the farm say a fence broke down and allowed the unfortunate escape.