Pumpkin Buffalo surrenders at Ripley County Jail
Versailles...where the Buffalo roam

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Described as a “big pet” Roscoe the Buffalo, who weighs in at about 2,000 pounds, left home early Friday morning to roam the streets of Versailles.

The problem with the pet that belonged to Jim and Joyce Samples of Versailles, was that he was big, and police had to quickly corral him. “He wasn’t vicious, he was just big,” Joyce told the Osgood Journal.

According to Sheriff Tom Grills, the call came in to the communications office a little after 7 a.m. Friday, September 18 that a buffalo was running loose in the town of Versailles.

Officers from the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police immediately dispatched to find the animal roaming the streets. “Officers attempted to corral the animal several times to no avail,” noted Sheriff Grills.

The sheriff further noted that the animal ran through a busy intersection at US 50 and US 421, thankfully avoiding colliding with the motoring public.

Sheriff Grills said after about a 30 minute attempt to corral the buffalo, the decision to put him down was made “for obvious safety reasons.” He further noted at that time, the animal, “ironically, ran right into a fenced area of the sheriff’s office.” The sheriff said he was thankful, because he did not want to put him down.

The animal was contained in that area until the owner was located and also a veterinarian arrived with the sedation medication. According to police the buffalo was corralled by officers who used ropes to guide the animal into a stock trailer.

Initial statements to the media from the sheriff were, “It was the best possible outcome to a dangerous situation. Public safety is of utmost concern when there is a 1800-pound wild animal running loose you can’t control.” He further noted that at the time they made the decision to put the animal down, “it was disheartening. I am glad the animal traveled where it did, we were able to corral it, and we saved the animal.”

He further noted that nobody was hurt, and hoped the buffalo would be able to roam his home pastures once again.

This wasn’t the case. Joyce said Roscoe died about 3 p.m. that same day, which was heartbreaking for her and her husband. “Jim had him about 10 years,” she told the Osgood Journal, and they got him when he was just a baby. “He was the first one he (Jim) bought,” Joyce noted, saying that was the beginning of them owning buffalo.

The Samples have about seven more buffalo, which are located on a farm near Versailles, and near the entrance of the Versailles State Park. Ted Tapp, manager of the park, said the buffalo are a big attraction for people who come to the State Park each year.

Joyce said she didn’t know why the buffalo went on a trip, he wasn’t prone to such action. She did say they thought a storm had brought down a tree and that could possibly be the source of his escape route. Whatever the case, they are sad to lose this animal that the sheriff correctly describes as “majestic”.

Sheriff Grills noted he was sad to hear the animal had died because they went to “great lengths to save it.”

Milan and Versailles police departments were also part of the crew helping with the incident on Friday.

Pictured above is Roscoe, the roaming Buffalo, that after running through town, made his way to the Ripley County Sheriff's Office where he was corralled using the existing fence, along with police vehicles. It was quite a morning last Friday as police from various agencies worked together with employees of the Laughery Valley Veterinary Clinic to bring this massive animal under control. At left, Sheriff Tom Grills is pictured just as he threw a tranquilizer dart at the animal. He told the Osgood Journal, "He (the buffalo) was the most majestic and beautiful thing I've been that close to." He said he hoped the animal survived, because they had done everything in their power to bring the incident to a peaceful end for everyone. That, however, was not the case, as Roscoe, who was described by his owners, Jim and Joyce Samples of Versailles, as a "big pet" died about 3 p.m. that day. There weren't sure if it was the trauma of the chase, the tranquilizers, or the combination of both that took their beloved pet, who made a bad decision to leave home and roam the town.