Thousands on Hand for Annual Buffalo Roundup Sep 24-26

Thousands on Hand for Annual Buffalo Roundup Sep 24-26

On the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup over 20,512 visitors watched this year while 1,400 head of buffalo headed toward the corrals at Custer State Park. Photo courtesy of Custer State Park.

Thousands on Hand for Annual Buffalo Roundup Sep 24-26

CUSTER, S.D. – Over 20,512 visitors attended the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park on Friday morning, Sept. 25, 2020, watching as 60 horseback riders wrangled the herd of 1,400 bison into the corrals for their annual health check.

“It was another perfect Buffalo Roundup weekend in Custer State Park,” said park superintendent Matt Snyder.

“We had three great days of weather, a hot air balloon night glow for the first time ever at the Arts Festival, and we were able to livestream the Roundup to over 100,000 people who could not be here in person to view it.

“All of our bison and riders made it to the corrals safely, so in our eyes the event was a huge success.”

Not only is the roundup a spectacular sight to see, it is also a critical management tool in maintaining a strong and healthy herd.

Visitors dig in at Roundup in two viewing areas starting at 6 am on this hill and the opposite slope, while buffalo are brought around and up the creek. Guests must stay in the viewing areas until the herd is safely in, around noon. Breakfast is available in both viewing areas and a buffalo picnic lunch is sold at the corrals once the buffalo are rounded up. Photo FM Berg.

Custer State Park also hosted its three-day arts festival in conjunction with the Buffalo Roundup. Crowds assembled throughout the celebration to enjoy a variety of entertainment under the big top, educational programs and vendors from all over the country.

Looking two years ahead, Buffalo Roundups will be held on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, and Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

 Custer State Park’s Annual Bison Sale Nov 7

Approximately 400 bison that were sorted at the September Roundup will be sold at the park’s annual auction on Saturday Nov. 7 at 10:00 am Mountain Time, according to Kobee Stalder, Visitor Services Program Manager.

Buyers and spectators from around the United States come to watch and participate in the annual auction. Buffalo are generally purchased to supplement an existing herd, to start a new herd, or to eat. 

The auction will be at the Custer State Park Visitor Center just off Highway 16A, in-person and on the internet. The link will be set up and for the online portion visitors can go to for more information, or contact the park at 605.255.4515 or email

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

New Center of Excellence to Advance Bison Research, Knowledge

New Center of Excellence to Advance Bison Research, Knowledge

Official Logo for the New Center of Excellence to Advance Bison Research at South Dakota State University, Research and Extension facility in Rapid City. Amazing beginning long overdue SDSU.

RAPID CITY, SD (Sept. 8, 2020) – The future of America’s national mammal continued to brighten this week as officials from South Dakota State University (SDSU), the National Bison Association and the National Buffalo Foundation formally launched the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies, to be headquartered at SDSU’s West River Research and Extension facility in Rapid City.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture to recognize centers of excellence in research, extension and education in the food and agricultural sciences. The Center of Excellence for Bison Studies will be coordinated through SDSU, but will include active participation by researchers and extension officials from other land grant universities, including 1994 tribal land grant colleges and universities.

The Center will focus on research activities to improve bison herd health and production and the economic viability of both private and tribal bison producers.

Plans for the Center of Excellence began in May 2017 when leaders of the National Buffalo Foundation, the National Bison Association’s Science and Research Committee and Sinte Gleska University convened with SDSU researchers at the main campus in Brookings, South Dakota. Participants at the session agreed on a number of research priorities, but recognized that a coordinated effort was needed to generate the resources to underwrite those initiatives.

“We will be pulling together the leading experts in their fields to help us gain a better understanding of this animal and the ecosystems it lives in, and to develop new resources for the people who raise bison,” said Dr. Kristi Cammack, the newly installed Director for the Center of Excellence.

Dr. Bill Gibbons, director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station at SDSU and Associate Dean for Research, added, “We realized in that 2017 meeting that there were many unanswered questions regarding all aspects of bison, ranging from their role in the landscapes they occupy to their importance in Native American culture to their significance in agriculture. And, we recognized that there are many qualified researchers interested in taking on those projects. What was missing was a unified commitment to bring together the resources to support that research.”

Phil Baird, Provost of Sinte Gleska University in South Dakota, noted, “Bison are once again coming back to Tribal lands across the country. Being a part of the Center will help Tribal managers as they restore both cultural herds and grow Tribal nation-building herds.”

The Center of Excellence represents a significant milestone in the restoration of bison herds to North America, according to Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association. “Our knowledge on how best to manage our herds has evolved through a lot of trial and error, supplemented by scattered studies at universities across North America. The Center of Excellence will bring together academicians, ranchers, and Tribal bison managers in a collaborative commitment to help us be better stewards of our herds.”

The National Bison Association’s Science and Research Committee will work closely with the Center’s leadership to identify key research and outreach priorities.

The National Buffalo Foundation, a 501©(3) charitable foundation dedicated to being the major trusted funding source for bison research and education, will embark upon a major fundraising campaign in the coming months to provide the resources to underwrite the Center’s initial research projects. “Having the Center of Excellence in place and with SDSU’s direct involvement, we all see a much broader view of the future of bison, while at the same time opening many fresh opportunities to expand our fundraising initiatives,” said Cecil Miskin, chair of the Foundation.

Kristi Cammackis the new Director for the Center of Excellence, Rapid City. She expects to see a much broader view of the future of bison. Photo SDSU.

Cammack will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Center, under the direction of an 11- member board comprised of SDSU, National Bison Association and National Buffalo Foundation officials, bison ranchers, and tribal representatives. The Center will operate under a formal Memorandum of Agreement that has been established among SDSU, the National Bison Association and the National Buffalo Foundation.

My Personal Note of Thanks to Promoters of the Bison Center of Excellence

Congratulations to all who worked so hard to bring about the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies. Especially the National Bison Association and the National Buffalo Foundation for helping steer this idea to fruition.

 South Dakota State University stepped up to the plate to fill this dire need and has announced the formal launching of the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies—to be headquartered at SDSU’s West River Research and Extension facility in Rapid City, SD.

Many thanks SDSU!

It has been all too obvious for too long that bison research was missing. It should have been easy, practically a no-brainer. Yet it took three years to launch this improvement on what Dave Carter of the National Bison Association has generously called “trial and error and scattered studies.”

I feel sure that researchers will look back in amazement in coming years. Surely, no other livestock business has been so sadly neglected by the extension service and land grant colleges. Perhaps there’ll even be a 4-H project someday—as are goats and even ducks and geese.

As a former county extension agent, I can only say I was simply shocked . . . shocked upon discovering the lack of bison research—almost alone among livestock species. Nearly every state has multiple cattle and sheep specialists, and practically does cattle research on top of other cattle research. Even beginning 4-Hers know where to ask if they have a tough question.

But not bison ranchers. Bison ranchers are literally on their own to experiment with “trial and error,” as Carter put it, to find out what might work. They visit successful buffalo ranchers and help each other.

Their several organizations put on valuable grassroot workshops taught by their peers. Can you believe that bison associations request research funds from their members?

Research costs money but there’s been almost nothing there for bison ranchers, while land grant colleges offer extensive research funds for other livestock businesses, chickens and even goats. Now surely someone will find funds for bison.

Congratulations everyone who has worked on this—and who will see that there is solid bison research coming together in the future. Best wishes to Dr. Kristi Cammack, newly installed Director. An amazing beginning, long overdue!!

Francie M. Berg, MS                       

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Bison Events in October and November 2020

Bison Events in October and November 2020

Note: Most events are virtual/ online.

Brownotter Buffalo Ranch Annual Production Sale – Bullhead, SD

Bull calves, average 464 pounds. Photo courtesy Brownotter.

Yearling heifers. Photo courtesy Brownotter. November 16, 2020

Brownotter Buffalo Ranch Annual Production Sale—Selling 400+. Bison Ranch located near Bullhead SD – SE of McIntosh SD. Selling by online method of bidding—bidding closes Monday, November 16, 2020. Selling entire 2020 calf crop. These quality calves will be weighed and sold in lots to suit buyers. Contact Ron & Carol Brownotter for inspection prior to the auction at 605-848-2623. This top performing herd runs on an abundance of native grass, truly in the heart of Buffalo country!


Texas Bison Association Fall Meeting/Ranch Tour – Bryan, TX

October 17, 2020

10/17/2020 – Texas Bison Association Fall Meeting/Ranch Tour – Bryan, TX. A virtual meeting. More information at  

55th Annual Custer State Park Fall Classic Bison Auction – Custer, SD

November 7, 2020

55th Annual Custer State Park Fall Classic Bison Auction – Custer, SD Details at

Coyote Trail Buffalo Annual Production Auction – Onaka, SD

November 21, 2020

Coyote Trail Buffalo Annual Production Auction – Onaka, SD

Minnesota Bison Association’s Legends of the Fall Auction

November 27, 2020

Minnesota Bison Association’s Legends of the Fall, taking place November 27-28 in Albany, MN.


Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Bison Show and Sale Jan 20-23, 2021

Bison Show and Sale Jan 20-23, 2021

Save the Dates

  • 1/20 – 1/23/2021 – National Bison Winter Conference—Denver, CO
  • 1/23/2021 – NBA Gold Trophy Show and Sale—Denver.

The National Bison Association announces that the National Bison Winter Conference will take place in Denver, Colorado, Jan. 20 to 23, 2021, and at the same time, NBA’s Gold Trophy Show and Sale (GTSS) will be held.

The conference is hosted at the Denver Renaissance Hotel, Stapleton, which is now taking reservations. Please save the date and “plan to join us for this exciting, fun and informative conference.”

The Gold Trophy (GTSS) is considered the premier bison auction in the US. For nearly 40 years, bison producers have brought their best bison stock to Denver’s National Western Stock Show to show and sell their animals.

“The mission of the Gold Trophy Show and Sale is to create an environment where producers can compete to establish the value of their bison in the current marketplace,” according to the NBA news release.

“The sale features high quality, judged breeding stock as well as top-notch production animals that are sure to perform back at the ranch.

“The GTSS also features its popular Market Class auction, in which the public can come and bid on top quality, all natural bison carcasses to be processed into packaged meat to your specifications.”

“Animals arrive on Tuesday, Jan. 19th and 20th, are judged on the 21st and 22nd, then sold on Saturday the 23rd.

“The conference is hosted at the Renaissance – Stapleton, now taking reservations. Save the date and plan to join the NBA for this “exciting, fun and informative conference.”

“Please note important dates below and reference the 2019 catalog for an overview of health requirements, etc. that need to be met to legally unload animals at the National Western Stock Show.

“Please note, GTSS will have class caps in place again for the yearling bull (20) and 2 year old bull (14) classes. Consignors are permitted to enter up to two animals in each class, however for these classes, one will be consigned and the 2nd will be placed on a waiting list as to allow many consignors the chance to consign at least one bull in these two capped classes.

“After consignments have closed, those bulls to be added to fill the class will be offered to those who consigned two animals on a first come first serve basis.”

Schedule as follows:
January 21-25, 2020

National Western Complex, Livestock Center Auction Arena: Denver, CO
Bison Arrive: Tues (Noon to sundown) & Wed (8 am—5 pm), Jan 21 & 22.
Show: Friday, Jan 24, 8:00 am—5:00 pm
Banquet and Dinner: Fri, Jan 24, 5:30 pm, Denver Renaissance Hotel
Judges’ Comments: Sat, Jan 25, 8:30 a.m. in the stockyards
Market Bison Sale: Sat, Jan 25, 10:00 a.m. in the NWSS Livestock Center Auction Arena
Live Sale: Sat, Jan 25, immediately following the market class sale in the NWSS

For more information contact Jim Matheson at, or (303) 292-2833,

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Buffalo from Grand Canyon travel to Quapaw Tribe

Buffalo from Grand Canyon travel to Quapaw Tribe

The Grand Canyon National Park team corral and feed 31 bison for the final pilot program transfer from the North Rim to the InterTribal Buffalo Council on Sept. 18, 2019. They will join the Quapaw herd in Oklahoma. Photo courtesy NPS by Bryan Mau.

Grand Canyon, AZ, Sept. 18, 2019 – National Park Service staff closed the doors on livestock trailers yesterday, securing 31 bison inside to transfer them to the InterTribal Buffalo Council who will take them on the journey to their new herd with the Quapaw tribe in Oklahoma.

The transfer of the bison concluded the Grand Canyon National Park’s pilot program for corralling and relocating bison from the North Rim.

“It’s an historic moment. These are the first bison ever captured and permanently removed from Grand Canyon,” said Grand Canyon National Park Bison Project Manager Miranda Terwilliger.

Leading up to the corralling operations, a corral was regularly supplied with food and water to encourage bison to enter freely and increase their exposure to humans.

“It’s a passive process. You want to work as quietly and calmly around the bison to keep their stress levels down because they have very little interactions with humans,” said Chris Clark, the South Rim lead mule packer who served as the corral boss, advocating low-stress handling methods.

After a large group of bison entered the corral during the operation period, staff closed the corral gates and began processing them in preparation for shipment. The processing included separating and releasing bison that were too young or too large or old to make the trip. They were guided into a squeeze chute, where the scientists took blood and genetic samples and tagged them per U.S. Department of Agriculture shipping regulations.

“We had an amazing team who worked really well together,” said Terwilliger. “We did a lot of mock runs and training in advance with other parks and agencies.”

Biologists from the Kaibab National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, Badlands National Park, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council assisted. Also present was a National Park Service veterinarian to oversee the well-being of the bison.

Several additional animals were outfitted with tracking collars and released during the corralling process. The collaring was conducted with the assistance of U.S. Geological Survey scientists for park wildlife biologists to study the bison migratory patterns and population size.

The goal of the pilot program was to capture and relocate up to 100 bison. The pilot program was conducted this year due to the bison migrating to a warmer location on the North Rim from early snowfall last year. There are approximately 600 bison on the North Rim, and Grand Canyon National Park is reducing the size to under 200 over the next three to five years to protect park resources from the impacts of bison over-population.
(Press Release: Sept 19, 2019.)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Yellowstone bison promote plant growth through summer

Yellowstone bison promote plant growth through summer

Buffalo graze along Rose Creek in the Lamar Valley. New research shows benefits of bison to summer plant growth

Biologists from the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Universities of Wyoming and Montana published their findings of a 10-year study about bison migration and grazing in Yellowstone National Park in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings show that wild bison shape vegetation cycles and stimulate growth throughout the summer. Scientists discovered, with the help of NASA satellites, that areas grazed intensely by larger groups of bison greened-up earlier, more intensely, and for longer durations each year.

The study also suggests that bison migrate differently than other species because of how they graze. Frequently they returned to the same areas of the park, which kept plants in a growth cycle, providing the most nutritious food for migrating animals. Evidence over the last decade supports that.

Migrating ungulates, or hooved mammals, follow the wave of spring plant growth.

Bison begin their migrations by following spring green up but their intense grazing lets them fall behind the wave of spring.

These findings result from a decade of research on Yellowstone bison by National Park Service biologists which included putting GPS collars on bison, setting up field experiments to evaluate plant growth and grazing intensity, and collecting dung and plant samples.

“Whereas migratory mule deer closely choreograph their movements so they are in synchronization with the flush of fresh green grass as it moves up the mountain, bison movements are not so constrained.

“They make their own fresh grass by grazing intensely in large aggregations,” said Dr. Chris Geremia, lead author of the study and senior bison biologist at Yellowstone National Park.

That finding sets bison apart from other North American ungulates.

During the study, comparing plots among fenced and grazed areas showed grazing at high intensity delayed plant maturation by stimulating plants to produce new young shoots after being grazed.

The bison then frequently returned to graze the same areas, keeping plants growing, although the plants never appear more than a few inches tall. Short, young plants provide the most nutritious foods for migrating animals.

“I commend Dr. Geremia and our partners for completing this incredibly in-depth study,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly.

“These unprecedented findings teach us about the complexities of wild bison and underscore the critical ecological role they play on the Yellowstone landscape.”

The bison population in Yellowstone is one of the only free-ranging populations in North America. They migrate more than 60 miles in the park.
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nov. 20, 2019.)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

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