The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation has announced some significant changes to this year’s Antelope Island Bison Roundup because of the coronavirus pandemic. The major change means that the general public will not be allowed to participate as in all past roundup events.
Traditionally, cowboys ride their own horses to assist park personnel in rounding up the 700-plus bison across Antelope Island and guiding them into the corrals for their annual checkup. One week later, these bison are sorted and separated one at a time to receive vaccinations and health screenings. Once the bison are checked, they are either released back onto the island or kept in the corral where they are later sold in a public auction.
In addition to the elimination of public participation, the actual date of the event will not be made public in advance. It is still expected to happen in October and the park will not be closed during the roundup. There will also not be any vendors, music or other festivities as have been the tradition. No media will be allowed to follow the roundup.
“The roundup has been a favorite of mine and many others for many years. It allows the public a chance to view a truly extraordinary event that showcases teamwork, patience, skill and highlights the beauty of these animals and the park,” Antelope Island State Park manager Jeremy Shaw said. “However, it’s important to remember that this event has a purpose, and that is to ensure the health and safety of the island and these animals for the coming year. So even though there won’t be as much direct involvement this year from the public, it is still something that has to happen.”