Catalina Connection

Bison bling helping biologists study the herd

Bison bling helping biologists study the herd

AVALON – Visitors to the island’s interior may notice something different about the bison roaming the hills: new necklaces.

In May, five bison that reside in the island’s interior, were fitted with satellite linked global positioning system  (GPS) collars. The collars have been programmed to track the animals and collect location data every three hours. The information is then transferred to satellites every 12 hours.

According to a press release issued by the Catalina Conservancy, biologists can access the data and locate each individual buffalo in the field. The study is associated with the conservancy’s bison contraception program that was launched in 2009.

Location data collected by the collars will be used to analyze bison movement patterns and habitat use. Through the satellite link, biologists are able to record breeding behavior and collect fecal samples, which are collected on a weekly basis and then shipped to the San Diego Zoo Center for Conservation Research for progesterone analysis.

The ultimate goal of this research is to determine if the application of the non-hormonal contraceptive vaccine porcine zona pellucida (PZP) has altered the timing or frequency of ovulation in treated cows. To maintain infertility, PZP must be administered annually; a treated female is not sterilized and ovulation and copulation with bulls continues as normal, according to the conservancy.

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