After months on the loose, Tyson the bison safely captured
A bison that had been living in the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda has been captured -- just days before a deadline the district set to have it removed as a potential safety hazard.
The 1,300-pound bison was "safely and humanely" located, captured and removed about 2 a.m. Wednesday by a professional livestock specialist, according to the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
"We are thankful the animal has been removed from the forest preserve safely before Memorial Day weekend when attendance at preserves increases," said Mike Tully, the district's chief operations officer.
The bison escaped last fall while being delivered to the Milk and Honey Farmstead in Wauconda and has been roaming western Lake County since. Nicknamed "Tyson" and "Billie" at various points in her travels, the bison settled in at Lakewood in April.
She had been sighted hundreds of times in various communities and had become a local curiosity.
Some thought the animal harmless unless provoked. Others feared the bison posed a potential safety risk to visitors and equestrians who ride at Lakewood, the only forest preserve in the system that has trails for horses only.
Citing visitor safety as a concern with the upcoming holiday weekend and beyond, forest preserve officials last week said they wanted the bison removed from Lakewood by Memorial Day.
Forest district rangers and would-be keeper Scott Comstock of Milk and Honey Farmstead were able to lure the bison into a barn with food. But previously, she always managed to elude them before the barn door could be closed to contain her inside.
Comstock was put on notice and subject to fines of up to $500 per day because the bison is considered livestock, which is not permitted in forest preserves. Tully said it most likely will be recommended that the fines be waived.
Last Friday, the district sought professional help for the bison's capture. Matt Noble, owner of Loose Cattle Caught, used a crew of specialists, a drone, horse and dog to search for the bison. The company had reached out to Public Safety Director John Tannahill and the fee will be worked out with the bison owner, Tully said.
The bison was located early Wednesday and lightly tranquilized to slow her down but it did not make her fall to the ground or otherwise put her in danger, according to forest preserve officials.
The bison slowly made her way to the barn for food and the door was closed behind her. A trailer was backed into the barn and the bison was taken to Noble's compound. She is healthy and under observation, according to the district.
"The safety of our users and the animal has been our No. 1 priority throughout this process," Tully said. "Bison is considered domestic livestock, therefore a forest preserve is not an appropriate place for it to call home."
What happens to Tyson from this point on is between the specialist and the owner, Tully said, and the district no longer is involved in the matter.