Anniston Army Depot's buffalo move to their new Georgia home
One of the depot's buffalo is loaded into a cattle trailer in preparation for the approximately 125-mile trek to her new home in Georgia.

Anniston Army Depot, Ala. -- Anniston Army Depot is no longer a place where buffalo roam.

The afternoon of Jan. 12, two cattle trailers from Noah's Ark, a nonprofit animal park located in Locust Grove, Ga., came to the depot and retrieved the two female bison and one beefalo, a combination bison and cow, the depot kept in a pen near the Nichols Industrial Complex.

"The buffalo will be taken care of very well in Georgia," said Chad Basinger, a natural resource specialist for the depot, who assisted with the transition for the buffalo.

The three animals arrived in Anniston when they were five months old on Dec. 11, 2002, and the depot's desire to find them a new home was necessitated primarily as a cost-saving measure for the installation.

The annual maintenance cost for the buffalo was approximately $2,500. The costs included veterinary visits, mowing and fence maintenance.

"This has been a long process," said Basinger. "It began in the summer of 2011."

As he began the process, Basinger learned that, since the buffalo were depot property, they had to be properly handled through DLA Disposition Services.

Alan Wilkey, site manager for DLA Disposition Services, said the buffalo posed an interesting challenge for his organization.

"Livestock is something we don't deal with that much and, even then, DLA typically deals with horses, not buffalo," he said. "I had to do a lot of research with our headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich., to find out what the procedures were for livestock."

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the depot and DLA. This allowed DLA to officially take possession of the buffalo, at least on the property books, but not take physical possession.

"Normally, we put yellow stickers on any DLA property that is not in our possession, but we weren't going to try to put stickers on the horns of a buffalo," said Wilkey.

So, the stickers were affixed to the pen instead.

Carol Fix of DLA's Reutilization, Transfer and Donation sent requests to various state agencies to learn if they knew of organizations capable of taking and caring for the buffalo. Georgia responded, saying Noah's Ark, a nonprofit organization in Locust Grove, Ga., could care for them.

Noah's Ark was chosen as the new home for the buffalo Sept. 28, 2011. The intervening time was spent having the animals inspected and given a clean bill of health, tagging their ears and preparing them to leave for new pastures.

Those new pastures contain a lot of new friends for the trio -- lions, tigers and bears roam the 250 acres of Noah's Ark and the facility doubles as a children's home for abused and neglected children as well.

"We have a little bit of everything," said Charlie Hedgecoth, co-owner of Noah's Ark.

That includes nine buffalo, in a more than 10-acre field with a creek, and two beefalo.

The beefalo stay in the same field as cows and horses.

"We have roughly 100 horses she will be able to run with and she will have roughly 100 acres to run on," Hedgecoth said of the depot's beefalo.

Noah's Ark is open to the public every Tuesday through Saturday, weather permitting.

Page last updated Fri January 20th, 2012 at 00:00