Tails wagging and lounging around, the buffalo in Custer State Park were fairly inactive Thursday, but that will change Friday, as the buffalo roundup kicks off in the morning.
Gary Brundige, resource project manager, says the roundup is important because it lets staff vaccinate the calves, analyze the herd, and auction off the surplus buffalo.
Brundige says out of the 1,200, nearly 500 buffalos are considered extra and will be auctioned off. Although spectators may be dealing with some chilly weather Friday, that's actually good for the buffalo. "There's less stress on the animal when it's cool, and they tend to move easier, they tend to – in the corrals – it's easier to bring them through," said Brundige. "They're a little less hyper, a little less active."
Craig Pugsley, visitor services coordinator at Custer State Park, says herding the buffalo actually begins in early September. "So what the visitors get to see is a culmination of a month-long effort, you know, to get them pushed into the southern end of the park," said Pugsley. "Then the final push into the corrals will happen tomorrow morning right around 9:30."
Pugsley says about 14,000 people are expected to come out Friday. Gates open at 6:15 a.m.