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Antelope Island to close Monday as hunters help keep bison population in check

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Posted at 9:56 PM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 23:56:23-05

ANTELOPE ISLAND, Utah - Antelope Island State Park will be closed on Monday for hunting. It’s an annual event used as a way to maintain a population of bison that continually grows.

Park managers say the free-range bison herd reached a peak of about 700 earlier this year. As part of a management plan, rangers rounded up the herd, and auctioned off about 200.

But about 75 bulls are too big to wrangle, so they’ve handed out seven permits for a one-time kill.

“We as a management organization have to manage the bison as far as keeping those numbers down,” said Antelope Island State Park assistant park manager Wendy Wilson. “To keep the carrying capacity to about 500 to 550; to maintain that level of quality.”

The bison were first introduced to the island in 1893. Wilson says the females birth about 200 calves every year. There are no natural predators on the island, so without a management plan the bison would take over.

The hunt goes from Monday, December 7 through December 9, but the park will only close on December 7, which is when Wilson says the majority of those hunters will be active.