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Hundreds of volunteers gather to participate in annual bison roundup at Antelope island

Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-31 00:32:35-04

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — More than 220 volunteers on horseback helped in the annual Bison roundup at Antelope Island Saturday morning.

Hundreds of folks came from all over the state to watch the old western round up.

Robert DeRosa, who moved to Utah from New York City in 2020, brought his 12-year-old granddaughter to catch a glimpse of the bison herd.

"You can’t do Antelope Island and miss the bison round up," said DeRosa.

"I’ve seen a few before but never like this close," said DeRosa's granddaughter.

For volunteers, they got even closer.

Jeff Nichols has been a cowboy in the round up for at least nine years.

"Where else can you herd buffalo?" said Nichols. "We’re a group that’s been born 100 years too late. We’re much more comfortable in this than we are in front of a computer screen.”

Steve Bates, a wildlife biologist who has worked at Antelope Island for twenty years, said they used to have helicopters herd the bison, but they learned real cowboys and cowgirls are better for the bison's health.

"With the horses, there’s stress involved but not near to the extent of using the helicopters," said Bates. "We can get to working with the animals a whole lot quicker, so we don’t have to hold them in the corals as long.”

Antelope Island can't sustain more than 500 bison, so after the round up and vet checks, Bates said they send the extra 250 or so bison to auction.

The bad drought conditions have not negatively impacted the bison.

"The bison have done amazing during this drought," said Bates. "They’ve stayed closer to the shorelines where the vegetation is greener."

Bates said they'll check the weight of the bison to see if they have gained a few pounds due to how dry their feed has been.

“Bison is just a fantastic animal, just an iconic species and being able to work with them is very satisfactory," said Bates.

Bates and other biologists will work with the bison Tuesday through Thursday, which will be open to the public.