KY man lands rare catch, a skeleton, while fishing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KY man lands rare catch, a skeleton, while fishing

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) -- A day of fishing for a western Kentucky man turned up more than a good catch for dinner.

Charles Ruphard of Owensboro hauled in an animal skeleton that museum administrators are interested in learning more about.

Ruphard and his wife, Lee, went fishing June 10 and decided to walk along a river bank, which he declined to identify to protect the site. Ruphard told The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer his wife saw some bones sticking out of the bank about 10 feet from them and realized the bones were large.

"You could see places of bones sticking out for 7 or 8 feet, and we thought this could be interesting," Ruphard said.

William Silvia, a University of Kentucky animal science professor and researcher in the school's College of Agriculture, reviewed photos of the bones, then retrieved them. Silvia said the bones were a bison, and a colleague who is a state parks naturalist believes that the animal is less than 10,000 years old.

Bison used to be common in Kentucky, but hunting by settlers changed all that. Bison have not roamed Kentucky since around 1800, according to the Kentucky State Parks Service, but small herds have been reintroduced at Land Between the Lakes and Big Bone Lick State Park.

Ruphard is retired and said he often spends time combing farmers' fields for American Indian artifacts.

Finding an old skeleton, he said, is just as interesting.

"I watch a lot of History Channel on TV and am pretty familiar with Indian relics and rocks since I've looked for them for years," Ruphard said.

Kathy Olson, executive director of the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, said the bison could have ended up there a number of different ways, including falling prey to an animal, a hunter's prize or something else entirely.

"It could be a kill sight or a slaughter site or prep site from early settlers or Native Americans. There are all kinds of possibilities," Olson said.

Olson said the museum is interested in the skeleton and could find a place for it either in a section about natural history or about how the area was settled by humans hundreds of years ago.

Ruphard said just wants to share what he found.

"I'd want other people to enjoy it. Personally, me and my wife don't want anything out of it. That's not the idea," Ruphard said. "I think it's for everybody."

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