Saturday, December 12, 2015

Buffalo Crossing

Mysterious buffalo herd runs amok in Canadian prairies

Buffalo braving the cold south of Melfort on Jan. 8, 2015. Mounties are warning drivers to exercise caution on Highway 35 south of Tisdale, Sask. as a herd of buffalo is at large.  Photo: Dayna MacDonald

The Japan Times  AFP-JIJI  Dec 12, 2015 

OTTAWA – A mysterious buffalo herd numbering almost 100 has appeared in the Canadian prairie province of Saskatchewan, officials said Friday, 150 years after they were hunted to the brink of extinction.

Police issued a warning to drivers to watch out for the large animals on highways while officials in the town of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the provincial capital of Regina, try to sort out what to do with the beasts.

Spokespeople for the police and the town said they have no idea where the animals came from, and it remains unclear if they are domesticated or wild.

“We’re not sure where they’re from,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Daryl Andrusiak said.

“They were spotted crossing a highway south of town,” he said.

“The last thing you’d expect to see while driving on a highway in Saskatchewan nowadays is a buffalo, so we wanted to alert the public of the danger.

“They have very dark fur so they’re not easy to spot, and they’re quite well built, so I don’t see any collision with them ending very well.”

There have been a few near misses but no crashes, so far, and one animal rammed a vehicle. The herd has also pushed through fences into barnyards.

Buffalo, also known as bison, are raised on some Saskatchewan farms for meat, but no farmer has reported a missing herd.

The closest known wild herd, which was reintroduced by conservationists about a decade ago, lives more than 500 kilometers away in a national park.

A spokesperson for the town said their pound keeper is considering corralling and relocating the animals, but nobody is sure where to send them if they do manage to round them up.

Meanwhile, large numbers of moose — which normally live in Canada’s boreal forests — have also been moving into Saskatchewan farmlands in recent years.

Scientists are studying why, but speculate that a lack of predators and an abundance of food from crops is at least part of the reason.

Parks Canada