If you've got a home where you'd like buffalo to roam, your opportunity is coming.
Dozens of on-the-hoof bison will be auctioned off during the Land Between the Lakes' annual sale of the surplus critters Feb. 1. This year's auction will be held at the South Bison Range, just south of The Homeplace along The Trace in the Tennessee portion of the federal recreation area.
A total of 39 buffalo will be sold as individuals. The list of sale animals breaks down as six cows born from 1994 to 1999, a large bull born in 2011, five heifers and 15 bulls born in 2012, and seven heifer calves and eight bull calves born last year.
The animals are subtracted from herds at the South Bison Range and the Elk & Bison Prairie to keep the numbers in balance with the habitat of each area. The herds expand through normal reproduction, so an auction to shed surplus is necessitated each year.
Bid packages and viewing of the animals for sale will be available at 8 a.m. on auction day. In the event of heavy rain or snow at auction time, the sale will be moved across The Trace to be held in a picnic shelter at The Homeplace.
Each buyer must pay his buffalo bill, so to speak, on auction day. All animals will be tested for TB and brucellosis and certified by a veterinarian. Buyers also can have bison vaccinated for a fee.
Buyers should plan on loading bison just after the sale. If they can't transport them immediately, bison can be picked up the following Monday, but a $20 service fee per animal is charged for holding them after the sale date.
For transport, open-top trailers are prohibited. Bison won't be loaded in those. And LBL officials say U.S. Forest Service staffers can help in loading bison onto buyers' trailers â “ but they become property of the buyers when they step out of the loading chute.
A finalized list of sale animals will be available at sale time. Meanwhile, details of the buffalo that figuratively will go on the auction block can be had by phoning LBL biologist Curtis Fowler at 270-924-2061.
Kentucky bowhunters who participate throughout the long haul of the state's four-month-plus archery deer and turkey season finally are in the final weekend. In continuously since the first Saturday in September, the season concludes at the end of shooting light Monday.
Bowhunters who still are hunting whitetails can add padding to an already all-time high deer harvest. Hunters by all methods last year, the 2012-13 seasons, took a reported 131,395 deer, a new record. The previous record was 124,752, a mark set during the 2004-05 hunting year.
Last year's record fell this hunting year during the late muzzleloading firearms season in December. Each deer taken since has set a new modern high. Earlier this week, late bowhunting successes already had pushed the total deer harvest to more than 143,000.
n Land Between the Lakes day-use fees at open, participating facilities Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will be waived in honor of the holiday. General admission to the drive-through Elk and Bison Prairie will be free as will day-use riding fees at Wranglers Campground.
The U.S. Forest Service managers of the LBL participate in fee-waiver days along with the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Other fee-waiver days will be observed throughout 2014.
n Biologists for the American Bird Conservancy say that, while birds are accustomed to dealing with winter conditions, the recent extreme polar vortex cold snap probably was a killer for individual birds of several species.
The weather system that brought record cold to much of the nation earlier this month drove many migrant birds farther south than normal in search of open water and food sources, denying those at latitudes where food and water normally are more available, the biologists said.
The extreme conditions raise birds' requirements for food to maintain body heat, and hard freeze conditions and, in many cases, snow and ice cover prohibit birds from feeding â “ a potential deadly combination.
ABC spokesmen say, while weather quirks can't be avoided, people can offer songbirds a helping hand during frigid times by providing feeders and extra food including suet and fruit for birds that don't normally eat seeds. Winter feeding is never a bad idea, but during extreme conditions the man-provided food can be the difference between surviving and dying for some birds, according to the bird-boosting organization.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail outdoors news items to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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