The spring season means cattle roundup at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Every spring and fall, refuge workers gather the longhorn herd to assess numbers and determine the number of animals that need to be sold to maintain balance. Ralph Bryant, deputy refuge manager, said with the recent drought and wildfires, keeping that balance is more important than ever.
"We have to manage the herd in order to maintain the adequate points for them since we have the longhorns, bison and elk, and other animals that eat the grass," he said. "We have to maintain a certain number of animals to keep the area and herd healthy."
To keep a balance, the refuge sells a certain number of bison and longhorns each year. Bryant said his men are selecting the weaning-age calves between six months and 1 year-old. He said there are a few adult animals that will also be sold. Once the roundup is complete, the health of the herd will be determined and they will decide how many animals to send to the auction market in Apache.
"We'll brand them with the WR brands on the shoulder, and we'll take them to the auction some time around the first week of May," he said. "That's usually the time period when we do that each year."