Antelope Island bison given their annual check-up

Posted at 5:49 PM, Nov 01, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-01 21:08:26-04

With about 700 bison on Antelope Island to take care of, the annual herd roundup makes for a difficult task.

The number of bison has grown exponentially since about a dozen were transplanted there in the late 1880s.

As a bison roundup volunteer for 16 years, Rodney Earl talks about moving a 2000-pound bison into a corral.

"You can`t plan on them doing anything definite for you. You`ve got to push them," Earl says.

Last weekend, 400 riders on horseback wrangled the hundreds of head of bison into corrals.This week they will be give them a physical.

Antelope Island State Park Naturalist Wendy Wilson says they will also determine which ones will stay on the island or be auctioned off.

"[We will] see if they`ve been sick, make sure they`ve been vaccinated, [and] see if there have been problems or issues in the past. Then based on that information, they`ll either stay on the island or they`ll be sold in a public auction.

Biologists use specific criteria to determine who will stay and who goes. Things like weight, age, and overall health play a factor. Proceeds from the public auction are used to take care of the island and the herd.

"Buying the hay for the roundup, keeping up fences, re-seeding areas that have either been burned or damaged in some way," says Wilson, explaining how the funds are used.

The bison are of the main attraction on the island and volunteers say their western majesty is what keeps them coming back.

"It`s pretty fun," says volunteer Elissa Story. "I mean, there`s lots of people doing different jobs. It`s cool to be close to these animals, you don`t really get that chance very often."

For more details on the bison roundup, visit the DNR website HERE.