CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mildred McIntyre said she's seen plenty of animals graze on her Jackson County farm in the 60-some years she's lived there. Mostly deer. But new creatures are trying to make McIntyre's farm their home: a 1,500-pound domestic water buffalo and the buffalo's newborn calf.McIntyre, 93, of Evans, chases the buffaloes off with a garbage can lid and wooden spoon every night. She just doesn't have the energy to do it anymore.The buffaloes, native to several Asian countries, showed up on her farm a couple of months ago, and McIntyre said she's tried everything to see something done about it.Many have offered to shoot the animals, but she doesn't want that to happen.
"It's really a sad situation," said Kitty Bowles, McIntyre's niece and neighbor.There used to be a deer- and exotic-animals hunting complex nearby, but the property was sold and the new owner seems to have abandoned the animals, Bowles said.Buffaloes, wild hogs, sheep, goat and deer all have been spotted wandering around Evans, which is outside Ripley. Nobody wants to see harm come to the animals, but they're overstaying their welcome, Bowles said.On Thursday, Bowles got in contact with Summer Wyatt, state director of the Humane Society of the United States.Wyatt hasn't seen the animals in person but is reaching out to national animal sanctuaries that could possibly shelter them. The decision would then be up to state authorities to determine if the animals are disease free and healthy enough to relocate, she said.It's difficult, though, to discover which agencies have jurisdiction over such animals.West Virginia Department of Natural Resources assistant chief Paul Johansen said his agency monitors only animals native to the state, such as white-tailed deer.He referred the situation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its consideration, but that agency regulates only exotic animals that are put on public display.Residents do not need permits to own them. State senators unsuccessfully tried to strengthen these laws last year after hearing about 48 animals escaping from an Ohio park.In October 2011, sheriff's deputies shot and killed those animals -- including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions -- when the owner let them out of their cages before committing suicide.West Virginia's law would have required exotic-pet owners to obtain permits and would have banned all future purchases or sales of those animals. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill, though, after DNR officials expressed concern about funding and enforcement.
Bowles said the water buffaloes are gentle creatures and aren't afraid of humans."[My cousin] had gone down and got close enough to this little creek where she was last Sunday," Bowles said. "She just eased her calf behind a hay bale and started walking toward him."She said that, another time, her grandson was bow hunting in a tree stand while the buffalo, then pregnant, loitered around him."Something needs to be done," she said. "What everybody wants is for these animals to be relocated."Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.