CANTON, Kan. (AP) -- The steady demand for buffalo meat could mean good prices at the upcoming annual auction of surplus buffalo from a herd in southwest Kansas, organizers say.

The buffalo auction is planned for Wednesday at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Canton, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The department, which maintains small herds of buffalo across Kansas, says about 100 buffalo from its display herd at the Maxwell refuge will be sold at the auction, which typically attracts spectators and buyers from around the country.

The department says prices paid for the iconic animals range from several hundred dollars to several thousand. A 2-year-old buffalo is expected to go for anywhere from $1,500 to $1,800, said Owen Meier, tour director at the refuge, which is about 30 miles northwest of Wichita.

"We're looking for a good auction because we have people coming from out of state and all over," Meier said. He said the annual auction usually attracts about 300 potential buyers and that many of the sales will go to ranchers who raise buffalo for meat.

"If you go to the store to buy it, it costs you about $8 a pound, and that's kind of on the cheaper side," he said.

The National Bison Association's website says consumer demand for bison meat has been rising and continues to outpace supply. The association says that in 2011 the average price for a young bull carcass was nearly $4 per pound, or 65 percent higher than the price paid three years ago.

Fewer than 1,000 bison were in the U.S. at end of the 1800s, but the latest data shows about 220,000 buffalo in the nation, according to the National Bison Association.

Dick Gehring, a member of the Kansas Buffalo Association, said Kansas has about 100 different buffalo herds, and owners of most belong to the association, which prohibits the use of hormones and preventive antibiotics.

"The meat demand is driving the whole market, and the meat market is very strong, very solid," he said.

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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