Daily Herald opinion: Time to find a solution that protects Tyson the bison and everyone else
Over the last several months, suburbanites have been captivated by tales of Tyson the bison.
We have, too.
We count ourselves fans of this 1,300-pound creature who has been on the lam since September, providing a distraction from war, inflation, political squabbling and COVID-19.
But Tyson's travels need to end -- for her sake as well as the safety of those who stumble upon her.
Nicknamed "Tyson" and "Billie" at various times, the wandering bison was sighted hundreds of times in nearby communities until settling this spring in Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda.
For safety reasons, officials there want her out. And they want her out before Memorial Day weekend.
Tyson escaped last year as she was being delivered to Wauconda's Milk and Honey Farmstead. Co-owner Scott Comstock, with help from the forest preserve, has been trying to lure the bison with food into a barn and close her in. Once home, plans for Tyson include breeding and helping with animal education programs.
So far, however, she's eluded capture.
Tranquilizing Tyson, Comstock said, would raise her heart rate and put her in danger.
Starting Monday, however, he'll be fined up to $500 a day, a move he says would put an "expiration date" on the bison, our Mick Zawislak reported earlier this week.
Let's be clear: No one wants that, and everything possible should be done to get Tyson home safely. But forest preserve officials are right to worry. A creature of that size could easily frighten skittish horses on Lakewood's trails, posing a danger to riders and others.
For that reason, Lake County Mounted Posse horse club has suspended riding at Lakewood, which offers the only horse-only trails in the Lake County Forest Preserve system.
"People think it's a novelty," said Lynn Goodell, a board member and liaison to the forest preserve district. " ... What happens when someone gets killed?"
It's time to greatly step up efforts to trap Tyson humanely, even if Comstock needs to seek additional help and expertise with the mission.
Tyson may be harmless if left alone, as Comstock argues. But in the coming weeks, she will be anything but alone as Lakewood fills up with suburbanites trying to shake off months of cabin fever.
Trapping a bison, especially one who seems quite happy in her new home, is no easy feat. Yet, it must be done -- humanely, safely and soon.