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Ultimate home for captured ‘Tyson the Bison’ still in the works

Both farmer who captured it and original would-be owner say open pasture is goal

Scott Comstock, owner of Milk & Honey Farmstead, has been taking care of "Twinkletoes" on the farm, but believes their sister bison, who escaped en route and was roaming Lake and McHenry counties for 8 months until their capture earlier this week, on May 25, 2022, should be placed somewhere where they can roam free.

The bison recently captured from the 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, currently is residing on Matt Noble’s Boone County farm, although it was originally destined for Milk and Honey Farmstead in Wauconda when it escaped last September.

Noble, along with fellow farmer Daniel Borchardt, assisted the Lake County Forest Preserve earlier this week in capturing the bison.

Noble and Borchardt have experience catching loose cows around the Midwest, Noble said, and in recent years, have been corralling and transporting bison to graze on tribal lands for the InterTribal Buffalo Council, which aims to restore buffalo populations on tribal lands across 19 affiliated states.

While Milk and Honey Farmstead co-owner Scott Comstock said he was unhappy with how the capturing of the bison unfolded – on May 18, 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 have recently shifted.

Scott Comstock, owner of Milk & Honey Farmstead, has been taking care of "Twinkletoes" on the farm, but believes their sister bison, who escaped en route and was roaming Lake and McHenry counties for 8 months until their capture earlier this week, on May 25, 2022, should be placed somewhere where they can roam free.

While Comstock said he originally planned to keep the bison on the farm for educational and breeding purposes, he has been 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 the bison 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 while 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.”

Noble and Borchardt scouted the bison for three days before their capture on Wednesday, Noble said.

The bison was easily disturbed and frightened away by people or dogs, one of the reasons that it had eluded capture for so many months, Comstock has said.

“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.

Scott Comstock, owner of Milk & Honey Farmstead, has been taking care of "Twinkletoes" on the farm, but believes their sister bison, who escaped en route and was roaming Lake and McHenry counties for 8 months until their capture earlier this week, on May 25, 2022, should be placed somewhere where they can roam free.

Despite the outstanding issue of the fines levied against Comstock while the bison was on the forest preserve, Tully said the bison “was no longer an issue” and the preserve was now “out of the equation” in terms of the bison’s future.

At the moment, 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 original owners of the bison.

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.”