Fifteen buffaloes that escaped from a farm in New York state were shot and killed today after they dashed past a group of police, crossed a major highway, and ended up near some schools, authorities said. "The last thing we wanted to do was put these animals down," says Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. "But it wasn't a safe scene." Three men hired by the farm opened fire on the animals this afternoon in woods in the town of Coeymans, about 10 miles south of the capital. Bethlehem police Lt. Thomas Heffernan said the decision was made after experts agreed tranquilizers would not be effective and no portable corrals or trailers could hold the animals.
They escaped yesterday from a farm across the Hudson River in the Rensselaer County town of Schodack. The owner believes they swam across the river to the town of Bethlehem, where they wandered across a busy stretch of Interstate 87 and into neighboring Coeymans. The killing of the buffaloes, which were confined in the stream bed, turned chaotic at the start, with deputies detaining one of the shooters who refused their order to finish off one of the three buffaloes that were initially shot. Apple said the wounded animal was floundering in the water. "We wanted that animal down," he said, and the man continued instead to shoot blindly into the brush at the other retreating buffaloes. "It was turning into the Wild, Wild West," Apple said. "It was ridiculous." (Read more buffalo stories.)