The Consequences of Malnourishment on Catalina
From the Journal: 10/26/2011 (Catalina Island)
Catalina’s Bison are reportedly undersized, though I can’t really see it, the Bulls weigh a mere 1900lbs, not even a full ton. Anecdotally, this is because the biological clocks of the extant population here are still synchronized with the much larger population on the mainland. Normally the rut takes place between July and August and the calves are born, after the nine and a half month gestation period, between April and May. This takes place in Catalina just like on the mainland. However there is one crucial difference. On the mainland the young are born into a world that is turning viciously green – sustained at first on the abundant milk of their mothers – by the time they are weaned there is still plenty of food to help them grow and develop. On Catalina the Bison are born into the dry season. Food is scarce and the calves, while hardly starving to death, often fail to thrive. Deprived of food early in life (and in fact nearly constantly thereafter), they never grow as big as their continental cousins.
We managed to capture three of the four known calves on the island during our month there. The lone wild-child is especially enigmatic since it was still sporting its infant-coloration, indicating that it had been born very recently and therefore very much later than normal.