Friday, December 4, 2009


Did you know that humans are not the only recipients of “planned parenthood?” I learned a very interesting thing recently in the field of population control. Only it didn’t have anything to do with humans.

Do any of you remember the song “26 Miles Across the Sea?” (If you know it ya’ just gotta’ sing it!) The first verse goes like this:

Twenty-six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me
Santa Catalina, the island of romance
Romance, romance, romance

Well, there are bison (also known as buffalo) on beautiful Santa Catalina, and those bison are way too involved with romance, according to the Catalina Island Conservancy, which owns 88% of the island and is charged with preserving its wild state. It seems that these big hairy animals, now numbering about 200, are descendants of 14 who were shipped to the island in 1924 because a silent film, scheduled to be shot there in 1925, called for bison. Ten years ago there were almost 500 lumbering around. And unfortunately, culling them down to a manageable 200 meant that three hundred of them were either slaughtered or sent out to breeding programs.

The permanent residents of Catalina are fans of the bison; many of the gift shops sell images of the shaggy beasts, and tourists are lured to events like “Buffalo in Paradise.” Recently one of the shop owners came up with an idea for contraception and the Catalina Island Conservancy believes the program will be cost-effective and is a much more humane method of controlling the herd. The female bison will receive annual injections of a wildlife contraceptive known as PZP. Since it is thought to be 90% effective, the herd will be downsized because the females do not get impregnated so often.

The tricky part is that the bison herds, which basically are feral animals, must be rounded up and taken to the bison “medical center” for the inoculation. That’s not easy to do, but where you find buffalo, you always find cowboys so the bison end up exactly where they are supposed to.

Who would have thought all this is going on behind our backs on that Island of Romance? There is so much we don’t know. Since I seem to want to know everything, I must again thank the LA Times for such an interesting revelation!

No comments: