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A Break from Bison Babies

Bison seem to be here to stay for a while. They are a favorite of visitors and are featured broadly across the Island's imagery in sculptures, paintings, photographs, mementos, T-shirts and advertisements. A true American conservation story, bison are iconic in more ways than one. A species brought nearly to extinction by our own senselessness; we learned and helped the bison recover.

When 14 bison were shipped to the Island in 1924 to appear in a silent movie, they were left on Catalina. It was one of those "seemed like a good idea" moments! For many years, we had to cull the herd to maintain their numbers at an acceptable level for Catalina's environment as well as for the bison themselves.

Now, we're trying something new and bold. Contraception. With the aim of avoiding the periodic (and expensive) shipping of bison to no-kill reservations, contraception can maintain a stable population for a long period of time. The process is reversible, does not affect the animal's behavior (too much) and promises to help the Conservancy is the management of this famous animal.

Click here to explore how we do it and what we have learned so far.

Text and photos by Carlos de la Rosa,
Chief Conservation and Education Officer