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'Lonely' bison runs off

Family members and firefighers combine to chase the Ruch-area wanderer home

RUCH ' When Connie Keever looked up and saw a shaggy-maned beast in her front yard Monday, she did a double take.

(I) knew immediately it was a buffalo, but didn't believe it was a buffalo, said the Upper Applegate Road resident.

Although the species was unique to her neighborhood, Keever, who has two heifers, knew what to do about roaming animals.

In this area, when you lose something, you let someone know, she said.

She called Fire District 9.

Fire Chief Brett Fillis said he and another fireman set out immediately.

Every once in awhile, we get that call, said Fillis. Usually it's someone's horse loose.

They located the distinctive escapee near Cantrall-Buckley Park.

We didn't have to worry and wonder if we had the right buffalo, he said.

Meanwhile, Jeff Finear of Lomas Road was making Lost Buffalo fliers to distribute. He and his 13-year-old daughter, Bethany, joined in on the roundup of their animal.

There's only one way to corral a wild animal that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

We gave him a lot of distance, said Fillis, adding that the bison wouldn't let them get much closer than 50 feet.

With two people on foot, one on a four-wheeler and one in a truck, the group fanned out.

We'd move toward him in the direction we wanted him to move, said Fillis.

Bethany confessed that she was nervous corralling the buffalo.

I'm scared of anything bigger than a dog, she said.

Getting him in that last little bit was the toughest part, said Fillis, who added it took two hours to get the male bison home.

We chased it and then we opened the gate and put food in, said Bethany.

Why did the buffalo jump the fence? Bethany said he was the last survivor of a group of four. The other three recently had fallen ill and died.

He was lonely, she said.