The 56th annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is Friday morning at 9:30 with over 20,000 spectators expected.
For safety reasons, spectators remain in the viewing areas until all the buffalo are corralled – which typically occurs around noon.
While the Roundup is a one-day affair, the companion 28th annual Arts Festival near the State Game Lodge with more than 100 vendors is 3 days, Thursday-Saturday.
There is no admission fee for either the Roundup or the Arts Festival, but a park entrance permit is required.
The Buffalo Roundup, more accurately bison roundup, is a key management tool for Custer State Park as it brings all the park’s bison together in one location for medical checkups, vaccinations, and culling.
The Custer State Park bison herd is currently estimated at roughly 1,500 animals – the highest in several years because of improved habitat following the 2017 Lodge Fire and plentiful rain the past 2 years.
Some 350-370 bison will be culled as part of the Roundup and sold at auction next month to production ranchers looking to start or expand a herd, or to meat markets and individuals looking to slaughter them for food.
Park Natural Resources Program Manager Jason Gooder says the bison herd needs to be trimmed each winter to keep numbers from exceeding the carrying capacity of the land and overgrazing.
Gov Kristi Noem says the Buffalo Roundup embodies the spirit of South Dakota and shows off Custer State Park to the world.