Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Monday, July 20, 2009

On The Buffalo Trail At Antelope Island

Hugo Martin participated in the annual bison roundup on Antelope Island, in Utah's Great Salt Lake, and lived to write this article for the Los Angeles Times. Below are excerpts.

Buffaloes don't herd easily. If pushed too fast, they lower their heads and charge at anyone dumb enough to get in the way.

But that is exactly what we were trying to do -- about 150 riders and me as we trotted across a flat field on Antelope Island in the middle of Utah's Great Salt Lake. Ahead of us, a herd of about 250 bison -- a woolly, snorting blanket of black shoulders and rising dust -- shuffled toward the corrals on the north end of the island. To move the animals, riders whooped like warriors. One rider snapped a bullwhip.

In all the commotion, at least eight riders were thrown to the ground, and one suffered a broken wrist.

Antelope Island's bison are descendants of a dozen buffaloes brought by barge by ranchers William Glassman and John Dooly in 1893. With plenty of grazing land and spring water, the bison thrived. When the state took over the island, park officials invited the public to take part in the annual roundup. Each year, for the last 22 years, the bison are herded into pens so veterinarians can perform medical tests, administer vaccinations, collect blood and check the cows and heifers for pregnancies. To ensure the population does not exceed the island's food supply, some are sold at auctions. The state also sells handful of hunting permits -- about six -- to cull the older bulls that are too ornery to herd or put in trailers.

Read the entire article.

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