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North Pole bison escapees under control; one still missing

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Three bison escapees from a North Pole farm have been located and successfully herded into a fenced area nearby, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. There is still no sign of the fourth bison, a 22-year-old bull named Tatonka.

The bison appeared on the Chena River Flood Plain two weeks after escaping the farm. The flood plain is “perfect buffalo habitat,” according to Chena Flood Control Project manager John Schaake. 

The bison were first spotted on the flood plain Wednesday, but migrated away from the reservoir and were walking along the adjacent road and bike path. Public safety was a concern, Schaake told the News-Miner. The potential threat of bison to human populations is one reason some people oppose the proposed re-introduction of wood bison into remote parts of the state.

Schaake divised a plan to use four-wheelers to herd the bison into the fenced area of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers compound nearby. 

“We just ran them a couple miles down the bike path to the compound,” Schaake told the Daily News-Miner. “They came right through the fence. Some of our guys showed some good herding skills.” The bison will stay there owner Deb Cotton can figure out a way to get them home. She’s hoping someone with a trailer can help.