Every year, come fall, they round up the bison on Antelope Island for a week-long process of inspection, medication, and culling. We did not get to the round up this year but had been planning this trip to see them working the herd for weeks. I was a little concerned when our normally sunny sky forecast called for rain that day but we moved forward with high hopes. When it still wasn't raining when we arrived I was positively giddy. Giddy still, as I swung that camera strap over my neck and went to adjust the settings on the camera. Giddy passed quickly when I saw that big "E" on the screen. Error message.
See, I was rocking this field trip thing. It was on the calendar way in advance. The little girls were up early packing lunches. We got gas. Camera card was downloaded and bag was packed. The misstep in there was forgetting to take the memory card back out of the computer. Insert sharp gasp and dramatic face palm. Not gonna lie, I almost cried actual tears. It takes 40 minutes to drive out from here to the island and they do this whole thing in a day or two.
Sooooo, I pulled myself together and pulled out the world's stupidest smartphone. You'll get the gist anyway. It's more important to just keep telling the story right?
Ok so bison are bovine and technically not buffalo which is apparently the term more correctly applied to the Asian water buffalo family. Nevertheless they ARE the same critter that roamed the open plains of the wild west. We've just been using the wrong name all this time.
These bison are part of a large herd that roam the island. In the fall they open up these feeding corrals to entice them in. When the medical staff and volunteers arrive they begin the sorting process. A few at a time are moved down the narrowing path towards the chute with this "turkey chaser" tractor.
One by one they are shuttled into the chute where the vet scans their chips (microchips, not buffalo chips ; )), assesses breeding status, and administers shots or meds as needed. This all happens in about 90seconds. I am not exaggerating. They actually move them through in less than 2 minutes each.
If the animal is not pregnant for two consecutive years or is not growing at a good rate or in some other way is not up to par they get routed to these holding pens to be sold. This year there was a fire started by lightning on the island that took out some 14k acres of grazing area so more stock than usual are being culled to prepare for winter.
Those that make the cut are sent on their way back out to the open range.
After watching for a while the children got to handle some artifacts from the ranch and roam around. Truly one of the best field trips we have done.
Even with a stupid-phone.