Hart Park mourns the loss of ‘Trouble,’ the bison, age 35

Members of the bison herd graze near the fence and can be viewed by the public at William S. Hart Regional Park . Dan Watson/The Signal
Members of the bison herd graze near the fence and can be viewed by the public at William S. Hart Regional Park . Dan Watson/The Signal

By Signal Staff 

The L.A. County Parks and Recreation Department announced on Wednesday the death of “Here Comes Trouble,” a senior female bison at William S. Hart Park. 

The bison, known as “Trouble” for short, died over the weekend and was described by parks officials as “one of the oldest and most spirited members of the bison herd living in the park.” She was 35. 

“We are saddened by the loss of Trouble, one of our most beloved bison at William S. Hart Park,” Norma García-González, L.A. County parks director, said in a news release. “Trouble was part of the L.A. County Parks family for 35 years. She will be greatly missed.” 

According to the National Park Service, bison may live in the wild for 15 years and, in captivity, bison may live as long as 25 years. Trouble exceeded the life expectancy of bison in captivity – living a full 35 years under the care of William S. Hart Park staff.  

“Trouble brought a lot of joy to those who crossed her path,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, said in the release. “Her personality always shone through, and she made both park visitors and staff smile with her antics. She will be greatly missed.”   

Trouble was born at William S. Hart Park on April 12, 1988, and gained her reputation as a feisty bison because she often picked fights with her herd mates. She also had a playful side and sometimes challenged the park staff by squaring up to the truck during the morning feeding time.  

“She was a beloved and memorable character among the herd, enjoyed by park visitors and staff, who frequently said, ‘Here comes Trouble,’ when they saw her approaching,” the release said. 

Trouble was part of a herd of bison that have been under the care of L.A. County Parks staff at Hart Park since 1962, when Walt Disney donated the herd to the county. Previously, the bison had been kept at Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch, in nearby Placerita Canyon. 

“Walt Disney, as familiar to most Americans as blueberry pie, and revered with nostalgia for his delightful 1937 production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, will be in Newhall Monday,” The Signal reported in its April 12, 1962, edition. “Mr. Disney’s appearance here is in connection with his donation to the William S. Hart Park of eight buffalo, now roaming the pastures of the Disney Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon.” 

Then-Supervisor Warren Dorn accepted the gift on behalf of the county at the park, which, along with Hart’s mansion, had been willed to L.A. County upon the death of the famed western silent film star in 1946.  

The bison had appeared in Disney film and TV productions, and the county arranged to “pasture the 1,100-pound animals in a newly built 8-foot chain link enclosure on the west side of the late silent film star’s 258-acre ranch.” 

The Signal’s 1962 story added: “The ill-tempered heavyweights will join a veritable farmyard consisting of pigs, chickens, rabbits, quail, pheasants, deer, goats, ducks, cows, dove, ewes, lambs and horses, including ‘Roanie’ and ‘Gentle,’ 37 and 34 years old respectively, and the only survivors of Mr. Hart’s original stable of horses. He used both not in his movie work, but to ride the great expanses of his ranch during the active years of his life.” 

Today, L.A. County Parks are home to more than 210 animals, many unable to survive in the wild and in need of care by L.A. County Park stewards and professionals, the county’s release said.  

“L.A. County Parks cherishes the bison herd as a historical and cultural asset of William S. Hart Park since 1962 and is committed to preserving their legacy and well-being,” the release said. “L.A. County Parks expresses its condolences to the visitors, volunteers and staff who have grown fond of Trouble over the years. It invites them to continue supporting and enjoying the remaining 10 bison in their scenic home at William S. Hart Park.” 

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