Students help with bison roundup
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:11
Three Members of the USU Wildlife Society traveled to the Great Salt Lake Saturday morning to help Antelope Island State Park control its bison population.
The bison roam on the island year-round with no natural predators. Because of this, there is a concern the bison herd could outgrow what the island can support. To keep the bison from overpopulating, the state park has an annual bison roundup. The bison are brought into corrals and checked for health problems, and some are taken off the island.
The bison were gathered into corrals two weeks before the USU students arrived. Some of the USU students helped by separating the corralled bison into smaller groups and sending them down different chutes into pens to be tested.
“They are pretty shy to humans, so they’ll go pretty much wherever you force them to go,” said Lisha Moffitt, a junior majoring in wildlife science. “That’s what the people down at the pens would take care of. They were there to make sure that the animals go in the pens they needed to be in.”
After relocating into the pens, the animals were sent through chutes one by one. They were weighed, had blood drawn and had other tests done to make sure they were healthy.
“They bring the whole herd in. They do a health check. They check for diseases, inoculate them against common diseases in bison,” said George Fawson, President of the USU Wildlife Society. “They actually check all the females as well to determine if they are pregnant or have given birth in the last season. If they haven’t given birth, they actually have an auction and they sell off a lot of the females that aren’t producing young. That’s kind of their way to manage their size of the herd.”
The bison roundup on Antelope Island has been going on for 26 years, but this is the second year the USU Wildlife Society has participated.
“I kind of initiated it last year,” Fawson said. “I grew up in Weber County and lived in Davis County for a while and went out to Antelope Island a lot. I contacted the biologist on the island, so this is actually only the second year where Utah State has participated.”