Tyson's travels: Elusive bison has become 'quite the celebrity' in Lake County

  • The bison that local authorities dubbed Tyson has been wandering Lake County since she lept from her trailer last September on the way to her new home at Milk and Honey Farm in Wauconda.

    The bison that local authorities dubbed Tyson has been wandering Lake County since she lept from her trailer last September on the way to her new home at Milk and Honey Farm in Wauconda. Courtesy of Bob Kryscha

  • The American bison dubbed "Tyson" by local authorities continues the Lake County excursion that commenced last fall when she escaped on the way to her new home at Wauconda's Milk and Honey Farm.

    The American bison dubbed "Tyson" by local authorities continues the Lake County excursion that commenced last fall when she escaped on the way to her new home at Wauconda's Milk and Honey Farm. Courtesy of Todd Dorn

 
 
Updated 4/10/2022 9:46 AM

For more than six months, the bison known as Tyson has been on an adventure.

Since one day last September, when she bolted from a trailer as she was being transported to her new home, the 2-year-old female -- whom Island Lake police dubbed "Tyson" and Cary police named "Billie" -- has been spotted roaming around western Lake County, munching on grass, strolling through residents' yards and sauntering across major thoroughfares.

 

"She looks both ways when she crosses the street. I've seen her do it," said Scott Comstock, co-owner of Wauconda's Milk and Honey Farm, where the bison was destined before she embarked on her excursion.

"I've sat for hours and hours and watched her," he said. "She's very methodical and very intelligent."

Since last September, Comstock has received reports on hundreds of sightings. He welcomes tips but urges residents not to get too close to the 1,200-pound animal who likely will reach 3,000 pounds by the time she's fully grown.

"Enjoy the view but stay back," said Comstock. "She's not dangerous unless you make her dangerous."

Sightings have been confined to western Lake County, specifically Wauconda, Lake Zurich, Island Lake and Hawthorn Woods, said Lake County sheriff's Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.

"Tyson has become quite the celebrity, and we understand the public's desire to grab a picture or get close to her. But remember she's a wild animal and easily spooked," said Covelli, who says his department has received 12 to 20 calls about the errant bison.

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Residents who spot her should notify the police or sheriff's department. Officers will work with Comstock to corral her, Covelli said.

"We ask that the public enjoy the anecdotes but keep their distance," he said. "We don't want to see anybody get injured. We don't want her to get injured, either."

The village of Hawthorn Woods began receiving reports of bison sightings at 6:53 a.m. on April 1. Chief Operating Officer Pam Newton didn't believe them initially.

"I thought this was a very well-organized April Fool's joke," she said.

Public Safety Director John Malcolm came to the same conclusion. But it was no joke: Officers spotted the bison on Milton Road heading into the Lakewood Forest Preserve, Malcolm said.

"Our wildlife crossing signs have taken on a new meaning," said Newton, adding that the bison is roaming in a village with a fitting motto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We are 'Rural by Design,'" she said. "Now, we can prove it."

For the last three or four months, Tyson has made the Fox River Forest Preserve her home, said Comstock, who -- upon discerning her location -- sets out molasses-sweetened feed in an effort to win her trust. Once he does, he'll lure her into a trailer for transport to the farm where her sister is waiting, he said.

He was making progress late last month and anticipated recapturing her, but on April 1, she eluded him once again.

"We want the public's help, but there's a difference between helping and being in the way," said Comstock, who's working with conservation authorities to retrieve the bison.

Once she's home, he said, his employees will hold a bison-naming contest for her. She will help with animal education programs and be bred.

"We're just trying to get her home safe," he said.

• Daily Herald writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.

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