Antelope Island Children’s Bison Roundup

It was the 8th annual Children's Bison Roundup on Wednesday at Antelope Island State Park.

Some rambunctious bulls are herded into holding pens, where they will undergo their annual checkup.

Close to 200 students with disabilities from the Davis, Ogden and Weber school districts watched as the hairy herd was captured and wranglers inspected,tagged, weighed, vaccinated and inserted microchips to keep track of the animals. The animals were also inspected for age, and the data recorded.

 As a bison weighing close to 2,000 pounds was pushed through a chute Wednesday, one of the students from northern Utah schools screamed with a mixture of awe, delight and fear.

Another went so far as to say she hoped to one day ride a buffalo in a rodeo.

The eighth annual Children's Bison Roundup drew close to 200 students with disabilities from the Davis, Ogden and Weber school districts to Antelope Island State Park.

Students watched bison move through the park's handling facility where they were weighed, blood tested and inoculated. They also enjoyed horse-drawn wagon rides and guided tours with park rangers.

"Our students learn about the animals, see how they are treated and how they count them," said Davis school district special needs teacher Patty Fowler.

Antelope Island State Park Manager Garth Taylor said the children's roundup gives park personnel a chance to test equipment before the main roundup.

That annual event takes place the weekend of Oct. 26-27 when the majority of the island's 750 bison are brought in for testing and culling.

About 200 park staff and volunteers in helicopters, four-wheel drive vehicles and on horseback move the herd from the southern portion of the island to the holding corral on the north.

The public can watch from a mile away.

Then, Nov. 2-5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., park workers move the huge animals through the chutes, giving the public an up close and personal look at animals that are descendents of one of the oldest bison herds in the United States. The animals were introduced to Antelope Island in 1893.

Twenty-eight bison were processed Wednesday.

"As a staff, we want to make sure everything is working before the big roundup," said Taylor. "Once the roundup starts, it takes three minutes to process each animal."

The bison have a microchip placed behind an ear with a bar code that contains their life histories. Biologists scan the information directly on to the computer to allow them to manage the herd, keeping the number of adult animals at around 550.

Some of the bison are sold. Six hunting permits are also issued each year. The ratio of bulls to cows is kept at one to four.

Taylor said the roundup is an exciting time for the Antelope Island staff and for Division of Parks and Recreation workers all over the state who come to work.

Besides, the kids are fun. "The excitement of the children is rivaled only by ours in hosting them," he said.

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