The Bison Round-Up at Antelope State Park

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ANTELOPE STATE PARK — The annual bison round-up is critical in ensuring the health of one of the nation’s largest and oldest public bison herds. Park ranger Chris Haramoto says that the bison population on Antelope Island “can be anywhere from 700 to 750 depending on how many calves are born in the spring. We’ll narrow that down to around 500 that we will have remaining after the roundup.”

Running at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, the population of bison are pushed from the southern part of the island, the fields around Fielding Garr Ranch, to corals in the north located at White Rock Bay. After being corralled, the bison will rest for four days, until October 31st, and then receive medical examinations including a series of immunizations to help them fight off diseases such as brucellosis. “It’s a disease that can spread through the bison quite quickly, and it can decimate the herd. A lot of the females, if they’re pregnant, they’ll have stillborn calves,” says Haramoto.  

Then, the bison will either be sent back to live on the island, be sold, or auctioned off at a later date. This will help decrease the bison count to a manageable number. 

During the round up, the bison are safely guided by a group of 300 volunteer horseback riders. Whether you’re new to the roundup or have a few years under your belt, all riders can agree that it’s an enjoyable experience. “It’s so fun, it’s just super fun,” says three-time rider John McFarland. 

For experienced round-up rider Kyann Betz, the round-up has become a beloved tradition that she participates in with her father. She is known for her fluffy bison-horned hat that she’s worn while riding in the round-up for the past 10 years. She says, “I wear it the whole ride, and I wear it every year. And there are people that know me by the hat.” 

Not only is this event beneficial for the bison and Antelope Island State Park, but this event has become popular among the public and is highly anticipated each year. “Where else can you get an experience like this to be a part of a round-up?” says Haramoto.

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