Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Bison Range Gathering to be closed to public

| September 14, 2023 12:00 AM

This year marks the first Gathering (formally known as Roundup) at the Bison Range under CSKT Management.

“Many of our staff are new,” writes Stephanie Gillin, information and program manager for the range, located south of Charlo. “To reduce stress for both our animals and our staff, we have decided not to open the Gathering to the public this year.”

Instead CSKT will film and release a video of the 2023 Gathering for visitors to view on the website, bisonrange.org, giving community members, visitors, and supporters a chance to see the process while also protecting the bison. Biologists and staff will revisit this decision in 2025 and may open the Gathering to small groups in the future.

The Gathering is a critical part of herd management. Over the course of several days, the entire herd is brought into corrals for genetic testing and vet care. To promote genetic diversity and keep the herd size consistent, some of the younger bison are taken out of the herd and auctioned off to other conservation herds and private owners.

This process is not only beneficial to the Bison Range herd but helps promote bison conservation throughout the northwestern region.

To lower stress and prevent injuries, biologists with the former Range managers – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – implemented what is known as “low stress handling,” reducing noise and encouraging animals to move through the corrals more naturally, rather than with traditional pushing techniques. This handling method has led to a drop in stress-related injuries and will continue to be utilized by CSKT biologists and staff.

Those planning to visit the Bison Range early next month may experience intermittent road closures on Red Sleep Drive on Oct. 1-2. Check the Range’s Facebook page for updates.

“Thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the last two years,” writes Gillin. “We greatly appreciate how kind our community has been as we grow!”

For more information about the Gathering or future plans, email bisonrange@cskt.org.

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