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CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. (AP) — The images are much like moviegoers saw during the buffalo hunt when "Dances With Wolves" hit the big screen nearly 25 years ago: hundreds of massive animals shaking the prairie as they kick up dust and stream down the hills.
During the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup in South Dakota's Black Hills on Friday, horseback riders — many of them real-life cowboys — were joined by all-terrain vehicles and pickup trucks to gather about 1,200 bison into corrals, joining roughly 100 head brought in earlier. They're branded and given vaccinations and then the herd is culled, or reduced, to about 900 that will be released back onto the park to roam free for another year. The rest are sold at auction
The annual event started 49 years ago as a way to manage the herd and ensure there's enough grass for all the animals.
"We'd do it if nobody showed up, but we share it with America," said Craig Pugsley, visitor services coordinator for the park.
The crowd has grown from a few hundred spectators in the early years to about 14,000 people from around the world who lined the hills this year. Park managers expect much bigger crowds next year for the 50th roundup.
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