- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) - About 800 bison are being auctioned Saturday on a ranch in south central North Dakota during a time of extraordinary demand for the big woolly animals often called buffalo.

Bev and Ernie Fischer are holding the auction at their ranch off state Highway 1806, 35 miles south of Mandan, beginning at 11 a.m., as part of efforts to downsize their herd to 200 choice breeding animals.

“It takes a lot of money, and it takes a lot of support” to run a big bison operation, Bev Fischer said.

It will be one of the biggest bison sales in the country this year, according to Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1O7xnqs ). The Fischers’ animals are likely to bring a premium price, as demand for bison has outstripped supply.

“There’s an unbelievable demand for bison,” said Kevin Leier, a director for the North Dakota Buffalo Association, adding that the industry is seeing the highest prices in a decade.

“This is an opportunity to take advantage of the industry right now. The prices are coming up and the demand is coming up,” Bev Fischer said.

The Fischers have even received calls from buyers who have asked them to cancel the sale and sell them the entire herd, but they’ve committed to the idea of offering them to anyone and everyone.

“We want them to go to auction, so everyone has an option,” Bev Fischer said.

More than one-fourth of the nation’s bison are raised in the Dakotas. South Dakota leads the nation in bison production, and North Dakota ranks seventh.

The North Dakota Buffalo Association will hold its annual auction Jan. 9 in Napoleon. The association will sell up to 300 bison during the event that is intended mainly for smaller producers or people looking to get into the business.

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This story has been corrected to show that North Dakota ranks seventh, not second, in bison production.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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