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Annual bison roundup held at Antelope Island State Park

Park rangers, staff, and volunteers on horseback round up all the bison on Antelope Island and bring them to corrals on Saturday. (Jack Grimm, KSL-TV)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

ANTELOPE ISLAND — Antelope Island State Park was a popular place to be Saturday as thousands of people showed up for the annual bison roundup.

It's the kind of place that makes you wish you had a better camera. And with the views at Antelope Island State Park, Curtis Earl said it's tough to take a bad picture, no matter what camera you have.

"I come out here as often as I can," said Earl. "I always get good pictures out here."

Even with all his good pictures, though, Earl had to come back Saturday for more.

"I'll come out every year to watch the bison roundup," he said.

The bison roundup is the annual event where park rangers, staff, and volunteers on horseback round up all the bison on the island and bring them to corrals.

It has become a tradition for many Utah families to ride their horses during the roundup to help cowboys gather the bison.

Biologists feel the island can handle 500 bison, so any extra are sold off at auction.

"We can only hold so many animals on the island so the island is a finite resource," said Steve Bates, a biologist with Utah State Parks. "Every year we have about 250 calves, so we scale them back to about 500 head."

Even though the Great Salt Lake is a lot lower this year and the water has receded from the island, Bates said the drought hasn't really impacted the bison.

"They made it through really well," he said.

The roundup takes several hours and is a slow process moving them from the south end of the island to the north — about 15 miles or so.

"I'm just excited and so is my horse," said Jay Munns, one of the people who volunteered for the roundup.

Hundreds of people lined the main road on the east side of the island to watch them all go by.

"Almost kind of reminds you of the show 'Man From Snowy River,'" sad Munns.

Once the bison are corralled, biologists check their health.

"Every animal that comes through, and they're staying on the island, receives an 8-way vaccine for respiratory illness," said Bates.

Those that stay will be rounded up again next year, giving Earl time to maybe find that better camera to add more pictures to his collection.

"I probably have a couple hundred of them," he said with a laugh. "Maybe more."

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