APACHE, Ok (RNN Texoma) - It's the first year in more than 70 years that the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Longhorn Auction hasn't been held at the refuge. But, they've found another location to help them preserve their resources.
"The decision was made to free up some time and resources for refuge staff to focus more on our bison management. Historically, we have been working both the animals and working the auctions around about the same time. So, this will take a lot off of the refuge staff," said Dan McDonald, wildlife biologist on the refuge.
The stands were packed at the Apache Auction Market where 74 animals were available for bidding. The sale helps manage the number of animals on the range and prevents overgrazing.
"We have to balance all of the animal numbers with the habitat because we have elk and deer and bison and longhorn. And so we have to balance all of those numbers with the resources we have available," said McDonald
McDonald says it takes staff the better part of a month to get the longhorn ready. "The entire process from rounding them up on the refuge and then working them and branding them and ear tagging and getting the necessary shots that they need for the sale and then to sale day. So, it takes three to four weeks to do all of those things."
McDonald says over the years; the event has become much more than just a sale. "It's a tradition and it's a big local event. That was a lot of the debate that we had at the refuge to go away from that because it is a popular event. There are people who are upset that it's not an opportunity anymore and we understand that. But, we had to look at the refuge and all of the things we had to manage on the refuge and this is one we kind of stepped back a little bit from."
Total sales for the longhorn this year were just under 38,800 dollars. McDonald says overall, the amount is very similar to years past.