The North American Bison, scientific name Bison bison, was first brought to Catalina Island back in 1924. These gentle giants were brought to the island for the production of the film “The Vanishing American”, which was never fully completed. After the movie went bankrupt, the film crew left the Bison on the island and these animals quickly flourished. The 14 bison that were first brought to the island grew to 600. Today the bison are monitored the Catalina Island Conservancy and the population ranges from anywhere between 150 to 200 bison at a time.
The North American Bison’s original habitat is located throughout the North American Midwest. Due to over hunting and loss of habitat the once great bison population diminished to less than 500 individuals back in the early 1900s. This drop in the population resulted in a loss of genetic diversity. Today bison populations are continuing to grow and are primarily located in large reserves or parks such as Yellowstone National Park. Populations such as the Catalina Island herd must be carefully monitored to ensure these exotic animals do not overgrow their habitats carrying capacity and run out of resources.