Catalina Island Bison

How Did They Get To Catalina Island?

You might wonder how or why there are bison, also known as the American Buffalo, on Catalina Island. There are many stories about how they came to be but the most told tale is that they were brought over for the filming of one of Zane Grey's feature film in 1924, either The Vanishing American or The Thundering Herd. Fifteen head of bison were used to portray scenes of the American West. As the story goes, the parts of the film that contained the bison ended up on the editing room floor. However, with limited means to remove and wrangle the bison, Mr. William Wrigley, owner of Catalina Island, allowed the transplants to stay. 

Is it a bison or a buffalo?

The animals on Catalina island are American Bison. Buffalo are native to Africa and Asia, while bison are found in North America and Europe.

Where do the bison roam?

88% of Catalina Island is protected through the Catalina Island Conservancy. This land trust was set up in the early 1970s and includes 62 miles of beaches and coves and over 165 miles of trails and roads, including the 38.5 mile Trans Catalina Trail which traverses the entire island. 

How many bison are on Catalina Island now? 

The Catalina Island Conservancy takes the responsibility of maintaining a healthy herd of no more than 150 individual bison. 

How do you see the bison on Catalina Island?

You can see bison while driving, touring, hiking or biking within Catalina Island's interior. The Catalina Island Conservancy offers a Jeep EcoTour, the Catalina Island Company offers several tours that go into the interior including a specific Bison Tour and Catalina Island Adventure Tours offers several interior tours. As well, Leyva's Electric Bikes offers a Jeep Eco Tour.

How are bison celebrated on Catalina Island?

Enjoy a Buffalo Milk, pick up a cute stuffed bison, ornament, sticker or t-shirt or enjoy a Bison Burger on Catalina Island.


In the 1920's 14 bison came to Catalina Island for the filming of a feature film. They were allowed to stay and have become an integral part…

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