Kit fox: ESRP expert responds to the handling of kit foxes

Regarding the issue of eradicating kit foxes from Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium, an expert from the Environmental Species Recovery Program said that ESRP was never contacted for advice or guidance on the matter.

Brian L. Cypher, associate director and research ecologist, coordinates several of ESRP’s research projects on San Joaquin kit foxes. Cypher is listed as part of a group under the Bakersfield program staff.

The ESRP, according to its website, is a cooperative research program on biodiversity conservation in Central California. It is administered by California State University, Stanislaus.

Cypher confirmed he had some knowledge of the issue with kit foxes in Memorial Stadium. He indicated that BC has not gone about the process of destroying the dens and relocating the kit foxes correctly.

“ESRP was not contacted,” Cypher said. “If we had been, we would have done all we could to talk them out of destroying the den. If that wasn’t successful, we would have advised them of the appropriate procedures and provided contact info for agencies and individuals that could assist them.”

When destroying an endangered species’ habitat or relocating that species, there are a lot of variables that can stand in the way.

According to Cypher, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife states that to remove a den from an area, the den must be monitored to make sure that no kit foxes are present. Once monitored, the den must be further excavated to make sure that there are no more foxes inhabiting the den. After that, then the excavation can be filled in and compacted to discourage the foxes from returning and trying to reform the den.

All of these procedures should also be either conducted by a qualified biologist and/or at least have a biologist present when the procedures are being done. Cypher also said that most agencies will not allow the destruction of dens during the period January 1 and July 1, because that is what is defined as the breeding season for kit foxes.

Cypher, in two email interviews with The Rip, he was extremely critical of the way BC handled the situation.
Cypher does not believe a biologist was ever present during the procedures that took place and that the dens on the hillside of the stadium with the “BC” logo was never excavated. “It was just simply filled in,” said Cypher. An institution of higher learning and ideals such as BC should have set a better example for those at BC and surrounding community, according to Cypher. He believes that this was a tragedy and not a responsible action taken by the college.

“I’m extremely disappointed that BC chose to destroy the den instead of setting a good community example and preserving the den and accommodating the kit foxes, as the college apparently had done for, well, over two decades!” Cypher said. “With just a bit of creativity, I think that stadium could have been nicely landscaped (e.g., xeriscaping) in a manner that would have improved its appearance and accommodated the foxes. It was an opportunity lost.”