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Annual buffalo roundup at Custer State Park

CUSTER (AP) — Thousands of spectators are expected to descend on Custer State Park for the 48th annual Buffalo Roundup.

The Rapid City Journal reports ( ) that about 1,250 bison will thunder across the prairie Friday to be herded into corrals. Organizers say the goal is to maintain a balance of bison and rangeland forage. Some of the herded animals will be sold at a November auction.

Custer State Park encompasses 71,000 acres in the Black Hills.

The event draws nearly 14,000 people annually.

The roundup of the park's buffalo is typically held on the last Monday of September, following the park's weekend arts festival. It was moved ahead of the arts festival this year.

"It was born of the idea of attracting even more people," said Craig Pugsley, visitor services coordinator for the park.

The park also will offer another major change this year. The north viewing area has been altered to allow for better viewing. The fence that used to line the top of the hill has been moved to the base of the hill, providing a "natural amphitheater for people to sit and watch," Pugsley said.

The cattle guard near the hill also was moved. The changes will allow more people to watch from the north side, and to be closer to the buffalo as they rush toward the corrals. Spectators also can watch from a south viewing area.

"They'll be standing face to face with the buffalo," he said. "It's exciting to be able to offer that opportunity."