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15 escaped buffalo shot after stampeding near Albany

A herd of buffalo cross a road, Friday,

A herd of buffalo cross a road, Friday, April 24, 2015, in Bethlehem, N.Y. About 15 of the animals got loose Thursday from a farm in the Rensselaer County town of Schodack, on the river's east bank a few miles southeast of Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - Fifteen buffalo were shot and killed Friday in an Albany suburb after the 1,000-pound animals escaped from a farm.

The nearly nine-hour ordeal attracted people with cameras as the frightened buffalo charged through a wooded area, across the Hudson River and at times charged police.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the animals raised for their meat were shot because they posed a serious threat to the public. He said tranquilizing the animals was discounted because of the danger of getting that close to the herd and the power of the animals.

Apple said a man hired by the farm to shoot the animals was detained for “blindly” shooting at the animals through forests and along waterways. The man, who wasn’t immediately identified, wasn’t charged. Others were also “hired guns from the farm,” the sheriff said. One buffalo was said to be wounded by a rifle shot and suffering in a waterway before it was shot dead.

“It was turning into the wild, wild west. It was ridiculous,” Apple said.

Apple said charges may follow as the investigation continues.

Officials said most of the animals weighed 1,000 to 1,100 pounds and could charge at a rate of 30 mph.

“It was not our goal to shoot these animals,” Apple said in a televised news conference. “It was creating a public safety risk.”

The animals broke their pens Thursday night and were seen running along train tracks and mobile homes. The buffalo were seen near the Albany at 6 a.m. and crossed the Thruway about noon before they were shot by owners of the farm around 1:30 p.m. Friday.

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