ANTELOPE ISLAND -- When the bugler calls, the bison will be on the move next weekend on Antelope Island.
And again, Steve Bates will watch with intense interest as the "monarchs of the plain" thunder for his position in the 23rd annual roundup of the bison.
"The opportunity to work with the bison has been incredible. They are a magnificent animal," said Bates, the wildlife range manager for Antelope Island State Park.
Since 1999, Bates has been figuring out how to best lead the herd of bison through their yearly check up.
Each year, he looks for ways to avoid injury and death for the 1,000-pound plus animals as they are guided through the metal fences to a waiting veterinarian.
The public is invited to attend the modern, Western roundup on Saturday and if necessary, Sunday, when the bison herd scurries from the southern tip of the island to the handling facility located at the park's northern end.
The annual event is an opportunity for the public to see the roundup of one of the nation's largest and oldest public herds.
Bates, who comes from a family of park or wildlife managers, continues to look for ways to improve the process.
He says it was not unusual in the earlier years of the roundup for the bulls, the male bison, to injure or even kill other bison.
This year, Bates rearranged the fencing to help safely sweep in the herd.
"I'm always thinking about reducing the stress on the animals," Bates added.
The herd, numbered at 500-plus for many years, will be rounded up this year by people on foot and on horseback, a "posse" of volunteers who ceremonially begin the parade of fur with the bleat of a bugler.
"These posse groups are the heart and soul of the roundup," he said.
From Nov. 6 through Nov. 8, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily, visitors may observe as the bison are weighed, blood-tested, inoculated, and scanned. All bison have a microchip implanted behind the ear, which serves as permanent identification and stores the animal's health history.
Visitors may view the events from a road leading to the Fielding Garr Ranch.