One of the only nice parts about traffic on Interstate 70 is that you might get a good, slow glimpse at the herd of furry beasts wandering the fields of Genesee Park.
If you want an even closer look, though, you could buy one to take home, assuming your home is on the range or in some other bison-appropriate place. The city of Denver on March 3 will auction off 23 of its young specimens from the Genesee Park herd and another herd near Sedalia to the highest bidders.
And, yes, some of them will probably get eaten.
Genesee Park was the first of Denver’s “mountain parks” system. It has hosted American bison since 1913 or 1914, when the city first acquired bison from Yellowstone, reportedly as part of an effort protect the animals from extinction.
Since then, the species has recovered from near extinction. More than 500,000 today are part of livestock herds in North America, while another 30,000 are managed for conservation.
“They’ll always have that genetics from Yellowstone. That’s kind of like their building blocks,” said Matt Brown, operations supervisor for Denver’s herds.
Denver has been particularly successful with its herd lately. Back in 2014, the young bull Edson sired 20 calves, as The Denver Post reported.
This will be the 32nd year the city has auctioned bison from the herd, according to Brown.
“There is some attachment to these animals — just because we care for them so much. We take care of them from the day they hit the ground to the day we sell them,” he said. “… And we would love to keep them all but unfortunately we don’t have the acreage to keep them all.”
There aren’t a lot of limitations on what the buyers can do with their bison. As the Post reported in 1991, there’s always a chance they’ll turn into “low-fat yuppie burgers for the cholesterol-conscious sweatband set.”
This year’s sale will leave 29 breeding adult bison in the Genesse herd and 27 in the herd near Sedalia.
You can drive up to Genesee and take a look for yourself on the day of the auction if you like. The preview starts at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 3, and the auction itself begins at noon. Bidders will be on hand from “all over the United States,” Brown said.
The city also recently completed a pedestrian bridge over the park, which should afford some pretty good views of the herd. It’s a big place, though, so no guarantees.
You also can spot bison at Rocky Mountain Arsenal — and check out our guide to local wildlife spotting for more tips.