BISON ESCAPE, CREATE BEDLAM AND FUN FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENTS
Gilford and Laconia, New Hampshire, experienced an event straight out of the history books. A herd of bison that normally call 340 acres of mixed pasture and woods made a successful jailbreak. 14 of the 25 animals collectively broke thru a fence and commenced what became a seven-hour chase scene thru the woods and residential neighborhoods of Gilford and Laconia. Obviously this ended up being quite well documented by locals who fortunately were pretty stoked to have their own more au natural version of the running of the bulls.
GUILTY BISON FLEE OWNER WHEN DISCOVERED, LOOKED “GUILTY”
The owner of Bolduc farm and normally the proud owner/caretaker of the bison herd, 78-year-old Bolduc expressed some paternal frustration about the situation. “The minute they saw me – because they know who I am – they knew they were in trouble,” he said. He was made aware of the escape via a late morning call from Gilford police. It took him only a short while to find them loitering on Sleeper Hill Road. “I started hollering at them, and they turned and went into the woods.”
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TETONKA MAMA STAYED HOME, BAD BISON EASY TO ROUND UP
The first half of the day, Bolduc said his herd made it all the way to Union Avenue in Laconia, a main thoroughfare known for heavy traffic. Aided by Gilford, Laconia and state police, he managed to wrangle them back to Morrill Street in a couple of hours. As he approached the barn, he realized he was in luck – only part of his herd had escaped, and the leader, a female, had decided to stay at the barn instead of going on the lam.
BAD BISON TEASE OWNER, POLICE AND RUN OFF AGAIN
“They left without her, so they didn’t know what to do – they were just walking from field to field,” Bolduc said. It would seem all would be well soon. But, as the renegade bison came within 150 feet of the farm, the spirit took the herd again, and into the woods and out of the pasture they went. “I was ready to get my rifle and start popping them off,” Bolduc said.
Meanwhile, locals, who saw the bison ranging around the Route 11A bypass and Gilford Avenue area, seemed to be mostly delighted with the animals’ escapades. The Gilford police first alerted the public to the bison’s presence on the road about 2 p.m. via their Facebook page. That post quickly generated hundreds of reactions, comments and shares from locals who know and love the bison herd.
Courtney Smith Schwartzkopf, who lives two doors down from Bolduc Farm on Morrill Street in Gilford, where the animals escaped from, called it “amazing” to see the animals out and about. “We saw them run back through our backyard it was unbelievable,” she wrote via Facebook.
LOCALS MAKE HAY OF ESCAPE, ENJOY SPECTACLE AND NATURAL DRAMA
Locals were shocked to see the herd running about, posting dozens of photos of the herd in various locations. Margaret Marceau of Gilford took a video of the herd running in front of her car on Gilford Avenue heading toward Laconia after she had seen them earlier on Stark Street in Laconia.
“I was surprised to see that they were not home and going in the wrong direction,” Marceau wrote via Facebook’s messaging service.
OWNER CONSIDERS WINGS AT DAY’S END, GUESS WHAT KIND?
Bolduc said at one point, he lost his herd. Worn out, he returned home, exhausted by the heat and the length of the chase. But about 5 p.m., he realized his herd had returned, as beat as he was. Standing on the second floor of his barn, he counted once, twice, maybe 15 times before he was certain all 25 of his buffalo had come home.
“They realized there was nothing out there for them,” he said. After a few minutes, the herd laid down, too tired – or, Bolduc thinks, ashamed – to even eat. “They must have known they did something wrong, because I was banging a grain bucket near the fence, and they kept looking, and none of them would come near me,” he said.
At the end of the day, Bolduc is glad his herd is home safely with just a few scratches. He noted the situation could have gone a lot worse; bison are fast, and territorial, and sometimes mean. “When you set foot in their field, you better be prepared to run 45 miles per hour,” he said.
But does he know what caused his herd to bust through the fence? Bolduc admits that will probably remain a mystery. “They don’t like the heat, so around 9:30-10 (a.m.) they usually go down to the woods and lay down for the day,” Bolduc said. “Today, I guess they decided to do something different.”