Ultimate home for captured 'Tyson the Bison' still in the works
The bison recently captured at a Lake County Forest Preserve is part of a potential ownership dispute but "will not end up in the freezer," said the professional livestock specialist who captured it.
The bison, nicknamed "Tyson" and "Billie" by local residents, is being housed on Matt Noble's Boone County farm, although it originally was destined for Milk and Honey Farmstead in Wauconda when it escaped last September.
Noble and fellow farmer Daniel Borchardt helped the Lake County Forest Preserve District capture the bison earlier this week.
Noble said the duo have experience catching loose cows around the Midwest, and in recent years they have been corralling and transporting bison to graze on tribal lands for the InterTribal Buffalo Council.
The council aims to restore buffalo populations on tribal lands across 19 states.
Milk and Honey Farmstead co-owner Scott Comstock said he was unhappy with how the capturing of the bison unfolded. On May 18, Lake County Forest Preserve officials told Comstock they wanted the bison out of the preserve by Memorial Day and began levying daily fines.
His plans for the bison recently have changed.
Comstock said he originally planned to keep the bison on the farm for educational and breeding purposes, but now he is looking for a place to donate the bison where it could roam free.
The bison's time roaming around the forest preserve, and continual evasion of capture, led Comstock to think she was "wild" and would not survive being confined in a captive situation.
Comstock said the bison's ongoing safety is his primary concern. The bison's sister, named "Twinkletoes," has been thriving at the Milk and Honey Farmstead, although the second bison clearly isn't as comfortable in a domestic environment, Comstock said.
Noble said the bison was captured and transported humanely to his farm, and it was "doing good" and eating and drinking normally.
"We did this with consultation from a veterinarian and wildlife biologist," Noble said. "This was not fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff."
The bison was easily disturbed and frightened away by people or dogs, one of the reasons it eluded capture for so many months, Comstock said earlier.
Noble and Borchardt scouted the bison for three days before they captured it Wednesday.
"We had to be calm and gentle to capture her in a humane, safe way," Noble said. "If you get too close, they will just run away like a deer."
Noble said they initially hit the bison with a light dose of tranquilizer, just enough to get it to drop its alertness and be more sluggish, before the bison eventually ran into Noble's trailer.
Noble was not paid by the Lake County Forest Preserve, and the capture operation will come at no cost to taxpayers, Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully said.
Despite the outstanding issue of fines levied against Comstock while the bison was on forest preserve land, Tully said the bison "was no longer an issue" and the preserve was now "out of the equation" in terms of her future.
Noble has asked for about $3,000 from Comstock to deliver the bison to the Wauconda farm, which is close to the original price of the bison, Comstock said.
Because it escaped while in transit from a farm near Green Bay, Wisconsin, Comstock said he had not paid for it.
Comstock declined to provide the identity of the bison's original owners.
Whether Noble and Comstock are able to come to an arrangement will not affect Noble's desire to ultimately relocate the bison to open pasture, he said.
"Hopefully we can get her back home sooner rather than later," Noble said. "She's a Lake County, McHenry County treasure."