Bison In Catalina: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Bison In Catalina

Are you planning a trip to the Catalina Islands? If yes, then you may likely have a chance to view the infamous Catalina Bison. 

We know you are shocked. If you knew about the history and wildlife of Saint Catalina, you would agree that Bison are not a native species to the island. Then how did they inhabit? 

Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about the Bison presence in Saint Catalina, their history, biological nature, and legalities related to the hunting of these large animals.

Are There Still Bison on Catalina Island?

Oh yes! There is still a large population of Bison on Saint Catalina Island. But the surprising fact is how they came about in the state.

In Hollywood’s golden era, Bisons were introduced in Catalina for 2 movie sequences. While they didn’t appear in the movies, their population remained on the island. 

Unlike these Bison’s their descendants did get a chance to feature in future movies like “Bless the Beasts & Children”. And today, a bunch of tourists take bison tours and consume bison burgers. Tourism and the activities by tourists support the island. 

Why Are There So Many Bison on Catalina Island?

After the introduction of Bison in the state, they were for many years left on the island and freely roamed. Due to almost no interference from outside, their population drastically increased. 

In fact, at its peak, the bison numbered 550 which is quite huge and dangerous for the native flora and fauna. This led to the establishment of Catalina Island Conservancy a non-profit group that controls most (about 88%) of the island. 

Their main role is to monitor and control the population of Bison by taking necessary steps. For instance, when the Bison population reached more than the carrying capacity, a number of these creatures are exported. 

Also Check Our Guide On Bison In Florida

Are Catalina Bison Pure?

Bison In Catalina

At first glance, you may think that Bison in Catalina is Pure. Because of their isolation and no interaction with cattle since their introduction to the island, this view makes sense.

However, the genetic data of Bison shipped off from the island, indicate that the animal’s genome has about 1 % of cattle. While this is low compared to the presence of cattle genes in mainland cattle, it does contradict the initial view of Catalina Bison being pure.

How Many Buffalo/Bison Were Brought to Catalina Island?

One of the weirdest legacies that Hollywood is known for is the introduction of Bison on Catalina Island for movie filming. In 1924, about 14 Bison that was part of a small herd were brought into the island.

After the filming, they were left alone, and their population increased to hundreds, and they have naturally become local icons. In fact, the building walls and weathervanes on the island are filled with Bison images and paintings.

Can You Hunt Bison in Catalina Island?

No, you cannot hunt a Bison on Catalina Island. These creatures are registered as privately owned agricultural livestock and are found in a fenced-restricted area of the island. Their population is monitored and regulated by the Catalina Island Conservancy.

As they are known to disrupt the natural endemic species, their count is strictly maintained up to 150. While Bison in general don’t attack humans, they may exhibit aggressiveness if you go too close to them or touch them. 

In fact, in the last decade, there have been 2 attacks by Bison on the island leading to major injuries. Therefore, avoid going near the Bison and enjoy the view from a safe and far distance.

If you do spot an aggressive Bison, report it to Catalina Island Conservancy and necessary action will be undertaken,

Also Check Our Guide On Bison in America


And that was everything you need to know about the Bison In Catalina. I hope this article was informative and your queries were answered.

Thank You For Reading!

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