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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Maxwell buffalo auction marks 34 years

  • A crowd of buyers and enthusiasts gathered at Maxwell Wildlife Reserve six miles north of Canton Wednesday morning for the 34th annual buffalo auction.
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  • A crowd of buyers and enthusiasts gathered at Maxwell Wildlife Reserve six miles north of Canton Wednesday morning for the 34th annual buffalo auction.
    Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Administrative Specialist Pamela Rudiger said the auction had been an annual event since 1978.
    “We didn’t have one in 2006,” Rudiger said, “because there was a disease in the herds.”
    The disease was mycoplasma, which causes respiratory disease, arthritis and mastitis in cattle. The auctions started back up in 2007 and have continued to this day.
    Rudiger said the reasons people buy buffalo vary.
    “Most of the buyers want to raise them for meat,” Rudiger said, “but some are looking to establish their own herds.”
    Gary Erickson of rural McPherson County was among those who bought the animals for food.
    “We bought two of them today,” Erickson said. “We plan to feed them for a few months and then butcher them. The meat’s lean, and it tastes very good. We love it. We’ve been doing this for 15 years or so.”
    While the commercial availability of buffalo meat comes nowhere near that of beef, its popularity has been on the rise in recent years due to its leanness and lack of the bitter, gamy flavor associated with many wild animals hunted for sport.
    Since the animals are auctioned, prices paid can vary wildly based on what the buyer was willing to pay, but amounts paid in the 2012 auction ranged from $900 for a heifer calf to $2,000 for a 2-year-old bull.
    For Wednesday, 65 of the buffalo in the auction were supplied by Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, with another two coming from the Garden City area.
    Lindsborg veterinarian Dr. Brandi Shamburg, who was writing out health verification papers for out-of-state buyers, said it was a neat experience, and one doesn’t see something like it every day.
    “This is my first time working the buffalo auction,” Shamburg said. “I did testing on the animals last week. It takes a lot of organization and a lot of people to put this sort of event together.”
    Rudiger said she’d worked all the auctions but one since they began in 1978.
    “I think it’s fun to watch and see the people who come every year to purchase, or, as the case may be, to not purchase,” Rudiger said. “There’ve been people who’ve been coming since the beginning, and it’s nice to see them.”

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