Antelope Island Bison Roundup underway

The annual Bison Roundup. File photo: Antelope Island State Park

ANTELOPE ISLAND, Oct. 26, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The annual Bison Roundup is happening Saturday at Antelope Island State Park.

The roundup begins at 9 a.m., and typically wraps up between noon and 3 p.m. Viewers are invited to bring camp chairs or blankets to watch. Educational activities and information are provided, and food is available for purchase (cash only).

The herd is typically maintained at 500 to 700 animals, and excess are auctioned off at a later date.

A statement from the park says that after the initial roundup, bison are allowed to rest in corrals for five days, reducing their stress level in preparation for phase two of the process, which happens Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.

In phase two, animals receive vaccinations and receive individual health screenings that include checks for pregnancies, parasites, and health issues, the Antelope Island State Park statement says.

“The bison are also given a small external computer chip, which serves as a permanent ID that stores their health information. Once the bison are checked, they are either released back onto the island or kept in the corral where they are later sold in a public auction.”

The auction reduces the herd size, to keep it sized for the available land — 42 square miles — and its resources.

“The manageable herd size for bison on the island is between 500-700 bison, and each year there are between 100-200 calves born into the herd,” the park statement says. “With no natural predators on the island capable of taking down a bison, it is necessary to artificially reduce the herd size to balance out the food supply.

“It is also important to remember that there are other animals – such as pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and mule deer – which also need to be considered when looking at the island’s overall food supply.”

“By selling excess bison at a public auction, park staff are able to keep the herd within a number the habitat can support. Ideally, the plan calls for a herd size of about 550 bison.”

The revenue generated through the bison sale is used in the Wildlife and Habitat Management Program for operating costs, habitat, and bison infrastructure improvement and research, the statement says.

Some funds are also used toward fire protection and weed management.

For more information on the event, click here.

Bison on Antelope Island. File photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

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