Escaped bison herd killed in southeast France
Decision to shoot 19 animals made for safety reasons, prefecture says
Nineteen bison that had escaped from a farm in southeast France have been shot dead for safety reasons, officials have said.
The animals had wandered from the Domaine de la Sasse, near Megève in the Haute-Savoie, where they had been bred, earlier this week.
The decision to cull the animals was taken on Thursday evening after efforts to herd them back to the farm had failed.
Tranquilising the animals had been rejected as an option due to the size of the animals and the large quantity of anaesthetic that would have been required. It could not be guaranteed that the bison would succumb to the drugs quickly.
"The herd, immovable, was shot dead without incident or injury among mobilised people," said a spokeswoman for the prefecture, on Friday.
"We did not do this with a cheerful heart, but we couldn't risk having a charge or a buffalo arrive in town."
The bison had stayed away from populated areas, but authorities were concerned for the safety of hikers using mountain trails - and it was feared that one or more of them could wander into a town. Traffic through Megève and Saint Gervais was restricted on Thursday.
How the animals escaped from the farm remains a mystery. The escaped herd represents most of the livestock of breeder Dominique Méridol. He raises and slaughters the animals and serves the meat at the estate's restaurant.
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