ANTELOPE ISLAND -- As the bison thundered down a chute toward open grassland, 15-year-old Bridger Hale had one word for it all.
"Awesome," said Bridger, a Viewmont High School sophomore.
On Tuesday, Antelope Island State Park officials staged the 16th Annual Children's Bison Roundup, a smaller run-through of the bigger roundup scheduled for the end of this month.
Bridger was among four busloads of students with special needs, from schools in Davis and Weber counties, to get a close-up view of the bison herd at Antelope Island.
With children and teenagers watching, about 100 of the 700 bison were herded through the park's handling facility, where the animals are weighed, inoculated and their blood tested as part of their yearly checkup.
Park Naturalist Michelle Croft initially guided the event for students, but it was her first roundup as a new employee on the island.
"It surprised me how fast they can move," said Croft, describing the bison's ability to run at 35 mph.
Canyon View kindergarten teacher Dana Wood said she and her Ogden students were in awe of how big the bison can be, especially when the corral allows the public to get within feet of a 1,000-pound animal.
The accessible peepholes and fencing around the roundup site provide an unusual opportunity to see, hear and smell the wild animals as they snort and then indignantly trot back into the park after being inoculated.
The island's Annual Bison Range Ride and Roundup is set for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
The state park is west of Syracuse off Interstate 15's Exit 332.
For more information about the roundup, log on to http://stateparks.utah.gov/roundup.