November's annual roundup of the 600 buffalo roaming Great Salt Lake's Antelope Island apparently will be a little easier this year, says Mitch Larsson, Antelope Island State Park superintendent.
One-third of the huge animals already have been lured into the fenced holding area on the island's northwest tip, prior to the start of this coming weekend's roundup, said Larsson.About 100 volunteers and state Parks and Recreation Division workers riding horses will begin the roundup Saturday, driving the remaining buffalo to the north end of the 15-mile-long island, he said.
The fourth annual buffalo drive is expected to be completed Monday, and then the animals will be held in corrals for another three days "where they will be allowed to rest and feed," said Larsson.
"By allowing the bison to rest for a few days, their mortality rate should decrease," he said.
During previous roundups, a few buffalo have died, apparently from the stress of the drive and the immediate movement of the animals into holding chutes where they were weighed, tested for disease and vaccinated.
All buffalo 12 months old and younger will be vaccinated for parasites and such domestic cattle diseases as bangs and black leg. They also will receive a long-acting antibiotic and vitamins A, D and E, he said.
The state then will sell about 125 of the massive animals to private buffalo ranches in Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The sale will bring in about $1,000 per animal, with the funds being used to improve the island herd.
Larsson said about 150 calves will be born on Antelpe Island next spring, replacing the buffalo that will be sold off and those shot in December by six hunters who obtained once-in-a-lifetime hunting permits.