Fish and Wildlife gives kit fox information

The Renegade Rip continues its investigation into Bakersfield College’s removal of kit foxes from Memorial Stadium.

As part of The Renegade Rip’s ongoing investigation into the removal of kit foxes from Memorial Stadium, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was contacted, and provided legal and regulatory information regarding the protection of kit foxes.

During this contact with Fish and Wildlife, it was learned that Bakersfield College is subject to an active investigation, initiated following The Rip’s April 6 story, in which sources who asked not to be named and an expert on kit foxes questioned the removal methods used by Maintenance, Facilities, and Operations.

The San Joaquin kit fox is protected by both the federal Endangered Species Protection Act, and by the state Fish and Game Code. Additionally, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established the Standardized Recommendations for the Protection of the San Joaquin kit fox Prior To or During Ground Disturbance, which was released in June 1999.

“[It] walks project proponents through the steps that they need to take prior to doing any kind of construction activity, on their property, when they are in a kit fox habitat,” said Anne Ferranti, environmental program manager, with California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The first thing required is that the project proponent engages the services of a qualified wildlife biologist, who would conduct pre-construction and pre-activity surveys. These surveys must take place no less than 14 days, but no more than 30 days prior to any ground disturbance.

“If the surveys identify any kit fox habitat features, (the biologist) will be consulting with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and submitting reports to U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife within five days of concluding those surveys,” said Ferranti.

Ferranti could not comment as to any reports being filed on behalf of Bakersfield College due to the ongoing investigation.

Continuing with the Standardized Recommendations, the next step in the process is to determine if an Incidental Take Permit is needed. If an Incidental Take Permit is needed, the project proponent must apply with both U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Permits are issued for a whole host of projects … from renewable energy, to residential development, for just operations and maintenance, for oil fields, you just name it,” said Ferranti. “They just have to come in the door, they have to basically apply.”

If the project proponent has decided that an Incidental Take Permit is not going to be needed, they must then follow avoidance recommendation, as outlined in the Standardized Recommendation.

“Avoidance from potential, known and natal pupping dens, those are three different categories, once those dens are found on site, it recommends that we are contacted as is the service,” said Ferranti. “Generally for a potential den, the project needs to stay 50 feet away from it, from a known den, it’s 100 feet away, and for a natal den or an occupied den of any kind, we have to be contacted.”

Ferranti continued, “Any qualified biologist, and by qualified [what is meant] is someone who had knowledge, and work experience with the species, and understands the ecology of the species, and understands these Standardized Recommendations are out there, and what they need to do to be in compliance with those, that qualified biologist would know, and would contact the department, and would be able to follow these.”

California Department of Fish and Wildlife offers pre-consultations for property owners who are not sure if there are any protected species or not on their property, and will come out at no cost to the property owner and advise them the appropriate steps that must be taken.

If someone feels they are witnessing something that they want to bring to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s attention, they have a secret witness program, an anonymous line to report poachers, polluters, and other issues related to the state’s natural resources, including threatening endangered species, and that number is 1-888-334-CalTip or 1-888-334-3258.