Great Bison Roundup
Yes yes yes…Antelope Island is home to a large bison heard which can number somewhere north of 750 animals by the end of each summer. Every year, at the end of October before the snow flies, cowboys round up the bison where they can be counted, vet checked and inoculated. Some of the Bison are auctioned off so that way the heard is managed with consideration for the resources available on the island. All to ensure a healthy heard. The target heard size is somewhere between 550 and 700 animals.
The public can sign up in advance to participate in the round up using their own horses or even rent them. By all accounts this appears to be a very popular activity which accommodates riders with wide range in horsemanship abilities. While there is a large social aspect with an almost carnival feel, the riders will provide an important function in moving the bison from the open range on the south side to corrals on the north side of the island. Many onlookers and photographers line the road, taking in this surreal event, reflecting at least for a moment what it must have been like in the days of the Wild Wild West….I know I did.
I live about an hour from Antelope Island State Park and quite honestly never seem to make time to visit Antelope Island. In fact, I’ve taken many of the National and State Parks for granted even though this year I’ve made strides to change this. The island is situated just north of SLC and west of a small community, Syracuse, UT. It edges up to the Great Salt Lake. It is accessed from the mainland via a causeway which carries a toll of $2. Once on the island, happy mule deer, pronghorn and bison roam and graze throughout, though the best wildlife viewing is on the south east side of the island. Camping, wildlife photography, hiking and picnicking are common activities.