A herd of 10 bison escaped Craig Smith’s farm Wednesday and shut down Quoggy Jo Ski Center and the Nordic Heritage Ski Center.
Smith and a group of volunteers spent much of the day trying to corral the small herd, and finally by 4 p.m., the bison were returned to their pasture.
One bison was hit by a car in the morning and had to be killed, according to Quoggy Jo chair Chris Killcollins.
The herd of 10 bison, led by a bull, was caught on Quoggy Jo’s camera as the animals moved up the hill around 5 a.m.
“This morning, I happened to check the cameras because an alarm was going off, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Killcollins said.
The bison herd was on the hill from 5 to 8:30 a.m. before Killcollins called the Presque Isle Police Department.
Professional backcountry snowmobiler and Maine outdoor guide Gary Johnson said he was on his lunch break and happened to run into the bison. He offered to help corral the herd by running home and getting his snowmobile. The bull who led the herd had charged at Johnson, he said.
“The males, when they are put under pressure, are going to try to fight back a little bit,” Johnson said. “I ran behind a tree and into some fresh snow, because they don’t like going outside of their own tracks because it becomes difficult to walk. Was just a fight or flight situation.”
Police and a group of volunteers tried to corral the herd by putting some hay on the ground to draw the animals in and to calm them down. By 3:30 p.m., four of the bison had been returned to the farm. By 4 p.m., the farmer, Presque Isle police and volunteers had encouraged the bison, led by the bull, to follow a trail back to their pasture.
Smith, who is a cattle farmer, declined to comment.