A Bison antiquus cranium and partial skeleton from Ayer Pond wetland on Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, Washington, date to 11,760 ± 70 14C yr BP. They lay in lacustrine sediments below peat, unconformably above emergent Everson Glaciomarine Drift (> 12,000 14C yr BP). Several bison finds in similar contexts on Orcas and Vancouver Islands dating between 11,750 and 10,800 14C yr BP indicate an early postglacial land mammal dispersal corridor with reduced water barriers between mainland and islands. New bison dates and published shell dates allow estimation of early postglacial relative sea-level trends for the San Juans, with a drop below modern datum ∼ 12,000 14C yr BP, and assist in evaluation of marine reservoir corrections. Emergence by ∼ 60 m is suggested by data from nearby areas. A tundra-like or meadow community and succeeding open pine parkland before 11,000 14C yr BP supported bison but horn-core reduction suggests suboptimal forage or restricted habitat. Expanding mixed-conifer forests after 11,000 14C yr BP contributed to bison extirpation. Dispersing ungulates such as bison must have influenced island vegetation establishment and early succession. Possible evidence for butchering by early coastal people adds significance to the Ayer Pond discovery, given its pre-Clovis age.