Blog — 28 December 2011

National Bison Range Annual Roundup Calf

National Bison Range Annual Round-up

The American bison at the National Bison Range in Montana spend most of the year minding their business, roaming the 19,000 acres of rolling hills. But not during the first week of October.

Every year at the beginning of October, the National Bison Range in Montana wrangle all of the bison for the Annual Round-up.

The first step involves horse-mounted wranglers surveying the entire land of the wildlife refuge and getting the 350+ bison over to one corner of the property near the corral complex set up for the round-up. The next step has one mounted wrangler and one Jeep Wrangler getting the bison into a large holding area before getting them into the corral pen. The Jeep then slowly begins ‘suggesting’ the bison start making their way down to the corral area, where they finally enter the complex.

They start out in a wide, spacious area, then a smaller holding area, then a pen where they’re pushed around until they can get them into the weighing chamber. They close them in and get them weighed. Then, the bison come back out into the pen, get tagged with a microchip (if they’re not tagged already), then are sent down one of the chutes. One for the adults, one for the calves.

In the midst of the poking and prodding of the day, one of the older bison collapsed in one of the chutes and couldn’t get up. The entire round-up process had been too exhausting for the poor guy and he just wanted to rest. The other bison were starting to pile up behind him and it was getting dangerous. The workers had to disassemble the chute just to get the senior buffalo out of there safely. Mercifully, they let him be and rest for awhile before sending him back out to pasture. (And they didn’t euthanize him, thankfully!)

National Bison Range Annual RoundupAt the end of the chute there were these contraptions that literally trapped the bison in place. This allowed the veterinarians to administer the bloodwork or vaccinations that were necessary for that particular animal. Their tags carry their personal information, so they know which vaccinations they’ve had/need, if they should check for pregnancy, and take blood to see the overall health of the bison.

I have to admit, it looks pretty brutal, because these metal arms slam down on the animals, but you know that what they’re doing is helping the animals in the end. The bison that live on the range are known to be the healthiest group in the U.S.

After their ‘doctor’s appointment’, they’re sent back out to pasture and won’t be called back to the poking and prodding for another year. I wonder if any of the bison smarten up and try to avoid the wranglers after going through the wringer like this every year?

Have you ever experienced a livestock check-up like this before? What was it like? Do you feel like this at the doctor’s sometimes? Let us know in the comments below.


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Juls is an avid Internet marketer and is the marketing, seo, and web brains behind the American Odyssey. She is always up for a challenge and loves to travel. Her favorite part is getting lost in new cities. Got puzzles?! She graduated from Boston University and is still a New England girl at heart.

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