The news today is that at least ten deputies fired more than 120 rounds from semi-automatic weapons in killing the buffalo cows. They also managed to hit houses, cars, and a few trees in the process. Luckily, all the people had been evacuated before the deputies started shooting.
The deputies were armed with the civilian version of the M-16, firing 5.56mm ammunition. It really doesn't have a lot of stopping power. To kill an animal the size of a buffalo (or elk), you need something with stopping power, such as a good 30-06, or something similar. A buffalo has bones strong enough that a 5.56 round will simply ricochet off. The officers would have been better off using their .38-caliber pistols rather than their rifles, especially at the close range they were firing.
I used to love to hunt. I have a standing invitation to go hunting with a friend of mine on the Western Slope. Unfortunately, there are far too many people like these police officers - and worse - in the woods during hunting season. They go hunting with heavy rifles and small pop-guns (one family from California were "elk hunting" three or four years ago, and the warden who stopped them found that the father had a 30/30, while the three kids were armed with .22 single-shot rifles!).
Many hunters forget that booze and guns don't mix. Even the best safety course can't compensate for a brain blurred by booze. And just because it moves doesn't mean it's an elk. Several people every year shoot deer, moose, cattle, and other critters - not to mention another hunter once in awhile - because they don't wait to see for SURE what they're shooting at. Killing a moose out of season in Colorado can get you a $5000 fine and a suspension of hunting privileges for ten years.
It's never taken me more than two shots to kill an elk, which is about the same size as these buffalo. I've made one or two single-shot kills, one from over 200 yards. These deputies were within 40-50 FEET of these buffalo, and were supposed to be "skilled, trained marksmen". I grew up on a farm, and have slaughtered pigs, cattle, and poultry raised specifically for our freezer. One shot, right between the eyes and about an inch higher, and it's over, even using a .22 pistol, which is what we normally used.
These police officers, like most people today, probably grew up in an urban environment, rather than on a farm. They have probably never wilfully slaughtered anything in their lives. The 5.56 is effective against wild dogs and rabid animals, but is worthless against something like a two-year-old buffalo, even at close range. There needs to be an investigation of this incident, and the police should have special marksmen armed with effective weapons to deal with situations like this in the future. With the number of deer, elk, bear, moose, and mountain lions that wander through the city, the police need to be able to effectively stop these animals. Yes, firing a .30-caliber weapon in the city is dangerous. So is a wounded mountain lion, or an angry bear.
Too many people think that a gun is a gun is a gun. Like any tool, however, you have to use the right one for the job. No one is going to try to do major plumbing repair with only a 1/2-inch crescent wrench. It takes the right tools, the right training, and the right kind of thinking. No professional would attempt a job without the right tools, yet that same person will go off in the mountains hunting with no prior knowledge, no experience, and little consideration for what they need to be successful - and safe. Is there any wonder why we have one or two hunters killed every season, or why at least ONE hunter brings back a cow, horse, or moose, and claims it's an elk?
I don't hunt any more, unless I go with a friend of mine during bow season. There are just too many untrained, uneducated, and unthinking people out there at the same time. If I want to be shot at, I'll choose to go to a war zone, where at least I EXPECT people to shoot at me!