STORY AND PHOTOS
BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
ANTELOPE ISLAND – Watching the bison roundup on Antelope Island is like stepping back in time, said Julie Spark.
This is the third trip to observe the roundup for the Ogden resident. Though she is originally from the East Coast, she said she grew up watching westerns and finds the chance to watch the real thing fascinating.
Ron Saunders is visiting from England and while he often spends summers in Utah, this was his first trip to view the roundup.
“It’s a spectacle,” he said. “Just wonderful. I’m in my element. I definitely won’t miss this again.”
A small contingent of observers lined the roads to watch from a distance as the island’s 700-some bison were herded off the hills and into a pen at the north end of the island.
After a week to “de-stress,” the young bison will receive immunizations, the mature animals will have their blood drawn to check for diseases and pregnancy, and some 200 others will be sold at auction to join other herds or for food, according to Wendy Watson, park naturalist.
This year, 300 riders made the deadline (another 50 to 70 were turned away) to participate in the roundup with riders from the Utah Department of Natural Resources, the Davis County Sheriff’s Posse and visiting herd managers from Custer State Park in South Dakota.
“Without your help, we’d have a lot harder time,” Ellen Labotka, park ranger, told riders before they spread out across the island. “The state parks thank you for getting the job done.”
Jeff Mabey was riding out with his brothers last Friday, on their fourth roundup.
“We wouldn’t miss it for anything,” said the South Jordan resident. “This is one of my favorite things to do.”
This was the first year for Hailey Bechard of Draper, and her first trip to Antelope Island.
“It’s really pretty,” she said. “I’m glad there are still parts of Utah that they’re preserving and even more, that they’re protecting the buffalo. A couple thousand years ago they’d be herding them off a cliff to eat them.”
Some roundups in prior years utilized helicopters to bring the bison in, something that was more expensive and brought more stress to the animals, said Watson. Last weekend’s roundup was the 27th on the island.