How Many Bison Are In Custer State Park?

The new Custer State Park Bison Center, situated at the Buffalo Corrals along the Wildlife Loop Road, adds an entirely bison experience to the park’s gorgeous drive through the southern plains of our 71,000-acre park.

A $4 million contribution from The Leona M. Wood Foundation made it feasible to build The Bison Center. The South Dakota Legislature provided $500,000, the Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust contributed $500,000, and the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation raised an additional $500,000 in private donations. Through interesting and vibrant interpretive displays, the Bison Center relates the tale of the bison herd that once roamed Custer State Park and seeks to inform younger generations about the significance of bison.

One of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the world, the almost 1,400-strong herd that roams freely in Custer State Park.

Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park

A herd of 1,400 bison will pass through Custer State Park once a year.

Custer State Park is located in the scenic Black Hills of western South Dakota and is surrounded by imposing mountains, tranquil meadows, and lush woods. Over a thousand bison live in this 71,000-acre state park, making it one of the biggest publicly owned herds in the world.

Each autumn, while the thundering herd is being brought in, cowboys, cowgirls, and park staff mount and the ground shakes and dust fly. The public is welcome to attend the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, which is held on the final Friday in September.

Here is all the information you require to get ready for the Buffalo Roundup, including instructions on how to watch the event online live.

Playhouse Road (Forest Service 753) at Custer State Park will be entirely closed from June until mid-September 2022. From the intersection of Highway 16A (Iron Mountain Road) to Center Lake, the road is closed. The Black Hills Playhouse and Center Lake will continue to be open and reachable through Highway 87. (Needles Highway). The project should be finished before the 2022 Roundup.

Bison (American Buffalo)

Park Custer State The foothills of Custer State Park’s 71,000 acres are home to one of the world’s largest herds of buffalo—nearly 1,350 of them.

National Badlands Park The major buffalo habitat in the southeast of the Park is traversed by the Wildlife Loop Road. The Sage Creek region’s Badlands Wilderness is home to about 450 bison.

Custer State Park Bison Center will receive $4 million

Gov. Kristi Noem revealed on Friday at the 55th Annual Buffalo Roundup that the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust had provided a $4 million grant to the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation to build the Custer State Park Bison Center.

Governor Kristi Noem remarked, “Visitors to South Dakota are treated to stunning landscapes, and the bison remain a critical part of that. “For more than a century, Custer State Park has been a major player in the protection of vision. The park will be able to share its story and inform future generations about the significance of the bison thanks to this one-of-a-kind center. Walter Panzirer and the Helmsley Charitable Trust deserve praise for their generosity and dedication to this undertaking.”

One of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the world, the almost 1,400-strong herd that roams freely in Custer State Park. The Custer State Park Bison Center will provide visitors with the chance to learn about the significant role the park plays in the preservation of the North American bison once it is finished.

According to Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, “We are thrilled to spearhead the financial effort to make the Custer State Park Bison Center feasible.” “The beauty, wildlife, and outdoor activities in Custer State Park are well-known on a global scale. Helmsley has made large expenditures and provided financing for the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center and Custer State Park Visitor Center in order to guarantee that the educational possibilities in the park reflect the splendor of the park. Visitors will have a renowned location to learn about and comprehend Custer State Park’s role in protecting the North American bison with the inauguration of the Custer State Park Bison Center.”

The SDPWF will be able to leverage an extra $1 million in private and public donations for the project’s $5 million total budget thanks to the grant money, which will be used immediately and last for two years. The center will be next to the Custer State Park corral complex and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2022.

Pranzirer also disclosed that his family would give the Bison Center $100,000.

How many creatures can you find in Custer State Park?

The Black Hills and South Dakota are celebrating a special year in 2019. The existence of Custer State Park dates back 100 years. Custer State Park claims of having one of the most diversified wildlife ecosystems in existence, in addition to unparalleled natural riches and beauty.

The vast variety of birds in the park surprises the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come here each year in the Black Hills. There are literally dozens of different bird species seen throughout the Park.

Also prevalent are small animals. The park is home to numerous different species, including squirrels, chipmunks, and beavers.

But the regal buffalo best represents the park’s wildlife population. The first herd was given to Custer State Park by Scotty Philip, a rancher and buffalo caretaker from South Dakota, in 1914. Three dozen buffalo were given to the park: six bulls, eighteen cows, and twelve calf. The herd has occasionally included up to 2500 animals. The estimated population for 2018–2019 is 1300. Within the confines of the Park, the buffalo freely wander the prairie and the woodlands.

Each September, hundreds of people attend a buffalo roundup event to see this unusual method of herd management.

In the Park, there is still another creature that is native to South Dakota and the Black Hills. In the southern Black Hills, elk were formerly in great abundance, but, like buffalo, their numbers decreased as a result of hunting in the late 19th century. Two hundred elk were reintroduced to the area that is now the park in 1911; their offspring are still thriving today.

In South Dakota, the pronghorn antelope is also a native species. Since 1916, these creatures have been managed in the park, and today’s Custer State Park visitors can observe them every day. Within the limits of the park, they also freely graze while keeping a close eye on everything around them.

The Big Horn Sheep is a lovely animal that was not indigenous to the Park or the Black Hills. Eight of these sheep were introduced into Custer State Park in 1922, just three years after the Park was established, and their offspring have flourished there for almost a century.

Another transplant of a sort was introduced to the Park in 1924. Six mountain goats broke away from the park’s little wildlife enclosure and started wandering about on their own. The goats liked the environment, and now the park is home to nearly 400 mountain goats who are descended from the original dozen escapees.

Finally, the park’s newest residents: the well-known Begging Burros, who have won over many visitors to Custer State Park. Beginning in the middle of the 1870s, miners and other workers in the Black Hills began using pack animals. These descendants are the burros. Today, drivers who pull over at specific spots along the Wildlife Loop Road in the Park are likely to get up up and personal with the burros. The well-known creatures beg their way into everyone’s hearts, but notably those of kids.

Since mountain lions have always existed in the park, there is no documentation of when they first appeared there. Because they are timid and typically remain to themselves in the more isolated regions of the park, casual visitors are unlikely to witness one of these sneaky animals. But the mere fact that they exist is sufficient.

The number of elk in Custer State Park.

Population Evaluations Custer State Park’s (CSP) current population goal is 800 wintering elk, with a possible range of 700-900 depending on habitat conditions.

In Custer State Park, what predators are present?

American venison

The bison, which once roamed the Great Plains in their millions, was nearly wiped off in the 1800s due to overhunting. A fantastic site to see these enormous animals is Custer State Park. When our family visited Custer for the first time, we got to see the amazing sight of a few hundred of them in one meadow, even crossing the road.


America’s fastest land animal, which is common throughout most of Wyoming and western South Dakota, can also be observed along the Wildlife Loop. Did you know they can run for miles at a 25 to 30 mph speed while sprinting over 50 mph?

Like the wild horses of the West, Custer’s burros originally descended from tamed stock. But unlike wild horses, the burros still behave submissively after countless generations! Our family has seen these fuzzy, long-eared, amiable creatures both times we’ve driven the Wildlife Loop.

They behaved more like dogs, approaching us directly, prowling about for food, and even poking their noses through car windows. They are not shy at all!


On neither of our journeys, we were able to spot these more elusive, higher-elevation animals, though we frequently see sheep in the nearby Badlands National Park.

Mule deer are rather abundant; they resemble their white-tailed cousins, which we frequently see in Minnesota, but have larger ears.


The larger local predators include mountain lions, coyotes, and foxes. Although occasionally sighted, black bears are uncommon there.

Do wolves exist in Custer State Park?

Unusual wildlife sightings seem to be increasing lately in the Black Hills, with reports of moose sightings in Custer State Park and wolf sightings close to Sturgis. Black bears are now been spotted in a neighborhood in Northern Hills.

Some were seen in Spearfish’s Mountain Plains neighborhood. When we spoke with our neighbors, some admitted to being scared of maybe running across a bear, while others weren’t as worried.

According to Mountain Plains Neighbor Jarek Albonico, “The bear sightings haven’t frightened me that much because my mom trained me to go inside and alert her if I saw a bear.”

According to conservation officers, the bears could be coming from Minnesota or Wyoming. Officers’ top priority is safety, therefore they strive to reduce the amount of bear-human encounters regardless of where the bears are from.

According to SDGF&P Wildlife Conservation Officer Josh Thompson, “our other concern is that once a bear becomes accustomed to trash or humans as its source of food, that’s when they can be deemed as what our department would call a problem bear, and that would then require some action on our part, whether that would be relocation or possibly more.

According to Thompson, there are a few things you can do to help stop these furry animals from straying into your yard.

“We advise people to keep their trash inside or locked up if there have been bear sightings up until the day or night before the trash collection. Of course, there are other preventative precautions a person can take to secure their trash can, such as purchasing a bear-proof cooler from a company like Cabella’s, “Thompson explains.

Conservation authorities advise calling Game, Fish, and Parks to check the situation if you notice a bear in your neighborhood.

The Badlands National Park is home to how many bison?

However, there are no drawbacks to Badlands National Park. It should actually be termed “goodlands.” Because of the landscape’s distinctive triangular buttes, tan and orange geological spires, long areas of mixed-grass grassland, and over a thousand free-ranging bison, it is unique.