Kit Fox Investigation Timeline

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

Courtesy ourtesy Brian Cypher of ESRP

Summer 2014:

Ed Davis, a BC community alum, informs Craig Rouse, then manager of Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations, that kit foxes dwell in the hill area inside Memorial Stadium. BC has plans for stadium beautification, which includes ground renovation involving wood chips (mulch) spread on the side of the hills “to control for weeds and other vegetation concerns.” It is determined that M&O needs to study if kit foxes should be removed from the hillside. (Obtained from “A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper)

August 14, 2014:

A meeting takes place between Department of Fish and Wildlife warden Levi Shaw, Davis, Rouse, athletic director Sandi Taylor, and stadium complex manager Patrick Harrison to determine how to protect kit foxes during an exclusion plan. Shaw recommends biologist Vicky Monroe to survey the area and provide a recommendation. (Obtained from “A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper)

August 27, 2014:

In an email from Rouse to Culpepper, Rouse writes, “we had a kit fox meeting on (above date) with the Department of Fish and Game. Vicky from Fish and Game will be heading the effort for BC to have the kit foxes at the Memorial Stadium removed.” (Obtained from “A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper)

August 29, 2014:

In an email from Rouse to Culpepper, Rouse writes, “if they (kit foxes) grow in numbers, this could lead to shutting down the stadium.” (Obtained from “A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper)

Early 2015*:

Monroe recommended that an “exclusion plan would be best to leave the foxes unharmed.” The exclusion plan involves using an excluder cage, which allows a kit fox to exit but not re-enter the cage. BC staff set up the cages, “it should be understood” that at no time was there any physical contact with the foxes. Activity of kit foxes in the hill ceased. (Obtained from “A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper) *Date approximated, based on sources.

February 2015:

Sources notice activity they consider to be out of the ordinary on the hillside. A blue spray appeared to have been used on the vegetation, and kit fox dens had been collapsed and filled in with cement. The sources notice that any work on the hillside appears to be done at night, and equipment for such work is found in various areas that weren’t there the day before. The Endangered Species Act forbids disturbing kit fox habitats between January and July, which is breeding/birthing season. (Obtained from witness statements, independently verified by The Rip.)

July 16, 2015:

In an email from BC sports information director Francis Mayer to Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations, and to Taylor, it is mentioned that after the meeting between Mayer and federal and state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, the Fish and Wildlife officer reminded BC that “any interference can result in a violation. They recommended consulting a third party biologist before altering or amendment of that landscape with woodchips.” The federal agent, Thomas Leeman, said, “it is very possible” that the kit foxes could stay where they are in harmonious co-existence. (Obtained from “A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper)

July 24, 2015:

Waring Laurendine from McCormick Biological Inc. conducted a survey of the area in Memorial Stadium. His report, filed July 30, 2015, to Taylor of the Athletic Department, shows evidence of kit foxes in certain areas of the stadium. Additionally, the report noted large rocks blocking several burrow entrances, and there was evidence of a den having been filled with concrete slurry. (Obtained from McCormick Biological report)

July 2015:

Vicky Monroe, the biologist recommended as the first consultant a year ago, calls BC Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations and leaves a message. She is contacted in an email from BC that states, “looking forward to any information you can provide to help get us back on track.” (Obtained by public records request)

July 2015:

Rouse resigns from Bakersfield College, Don Birdwell becomes manager of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations. (Verified by The Rip)

July 27, 2015:

“The Kit Fox: A Report on the Exclusion Plan for Kit Foxes in the Memorial Stadium Area at Bakersfield College,” prepared by Anthony Culpepper. Presented to chancellor Sandra Serrano. (obtained by public records request)

August 10, 2015:

An email from Monroe is forwarded from Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations to Culpepper. The email states that no “clearance report” from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is pending or planned. Monroe mentions that brief site-visit meetings were held in August and November 2014. Monroe stated at the time no “clearance report” was requested and no further guidance was sought by BC. She suggested that BC contact an independent wildlife biologist to assess the site conditions. (Obtained by public records request)

September 3, 2015:

KCCD chancellor Sandra Serrano sends an email to BC president Sonya Christian. That email is forwarded by Christian to Culpepper, BC’s other two vice presidents, and Taylor. The email states, in part, “Bakersfield College is directed to refrain from taking or initiating any further actions regarding the kit foxes or kit fox dens until Mr. Burke and Mr. Hine agree that is (sic) proper to go forward with those actions.” The email also mentioned that district general counsel has requested a legal opinion from outside counsel. The legal opinion was expected to be received by the first week of September. (Obtained by public records request)

October 9, 2015:

Laurendine files another report, this time with Culpepper. He mentions that another survey was taken on October 6, 2015 at the request of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The report stated that most of the site was free of dens and burrows, except for three active den entrances at the BC concrete insignia on the hillside. Laurendine recommends a 100-foot buffer should be established around each den entrance and around the entire complex, and that mulch should be distributed up to the buffer limit. The company recommended that BC contact the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for permission to encroach into the buffer. (Obtained from public records request)

July-November 2015:

The hillside doesn’t appear to be touched and the mulch, which was delivered to BC in August 2015 and placed in a student parking lot south of the stadium, hasn’t been put in. (Verified by The Rip)

November 2015:

Birdwell states in a story in The Rip that the mulch couldn’t be placed because of the kit foxes residing there. He said the “problem has been resolved,” and the mulch would be placed during winter break. (Appeared in The Rip)

December 28, 2015 through January 5, 2016:

An invoice sent to Bakersfield College shows that McCormick Biological Inc. oversaw the spreading of mulch on one-third of the hillside in Memorial Stadium at the cost of $4,325.30. The rest of the mulch remains in the student parking lot. Mulch has since been spread in areas around the aquatic center. (Obtained by public records request)

March 2016:

The sources who noticed the activity on the hillside in February 2015, provide interviews to the Rip. Birdwell remains in his position, and William Potter is named the director of Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations.

April 6, 2016:

The Rip publishes two stories on the kit fox issue, including one with Brian Cypher of the Endangered Species Recovery Program criticizing BC for its handling of the situation. One of Cypher’s major areas is the study of kit foxes. Other sources provided The Rip with information that shows BC violated the Endangered Species Act, but that information is left out of the main story, as sources didn’t want to go on record and in an effort by The Rip to confirm that information. Story online at www.therip.com a nd on Rip newspaper racks on campus.

April 11, 2016:

PETA contacts The Rip and says that BC needed to get state and federal permits to conduct this type of work.

April 13, 2016:

Culpepper, in an interview, said, “we were in direct contact with the fish and game, wildlife and the expert biologist that they recommended, so if permits were required, they would have informed us of that.” (The Rip has verified that no biologist was present or involved until BC brought in McCormick Biological.)

In the same interview, Culpepper stated, “the cement being poured into the den was something that was done when Craig Rouse was here, that conversation that took place then, I don’t know if it was by direct communication from the biologist or not.” (The Rip has verified that no biologist was present or involved until BC brought in McCormick Biological.)

April 19, 2016:

A source who wished to remain anonymous contacts The Rip and says much of the work was done at night, hardly any of the recommendations were followed, and that work was done during the breeding/ birthing period. Known kit fox dens were filled with cement slurry without any verification that the dens were unoccupied. The source mentions that Rouse and Birdwell are the ones who allowed the work to take place, even if it might violate federal law. Excluder cages were modified, not allowing kit foxes to exit, and three dead kit foxes were located in or near the stadium. (Read the story in this issue of The Rip)

April 20, 2016:

The Rip publishes a story from the interview with Culpepper. Story online at www. therip.com and on Rip newspaper racks.

April 21, 2016:

Ed Davis, the BC alum, meets with The Rip’s Joe Bergman, and asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the April 6 kit fox story. He says that the idea for the mulch on the hillsides was his, and he stated kit foxes needed to be removed for safety reasons, and that they could be a liability to the school. “I started it… I know the whole thing, because I did it all,” he said. Davis said he felt confident the work on the hillside was carried out within proper guidelines. (Read the story in this issue of The Rip)

April 22, 2016:

Davis calls Bergman and ask him if he can read the story before it is published. It is explained to Davis that is not the policy, and the answer is no. Davis then tells Bergman that if puts him in a negative light, then he doesn’t want comments he made in the interview used. Davis is told that he voluntarily provided the information, and any pertinent comments he made could be used in the story. Davis reiterated that if the story, in his opinion, was negative, he would be calling his lawyer and contacting the journalism professor at BC. (Read the story in this issue of The Rip)

April 27, 2016:

Anne Ferranti, environmental program manager, advises The Rip that there is an active investigation into what transpired at BC. Additionally, Ferranti explains in detail the necessary steps that must be taken when dealing with kit foxes. (Read the story in this issue of The Rip)

April 28, 2016:

Culpepper was interviewed again. A complete transcript of this interview will be available on www.therip.com, accompanying the story in this issue of The Rip. He says that he and Birdwell have “no knowledge” of any wrongdoing stated by the source regarding the work done to remove kit foxes.

April 29, 2016:

With KCCD chancellor Sandra Serrano out of town, The Rip was referred to BC financial director Tom Burke, who stated the chancellor stopped all work occurring at BC relating to the kit foxes, because of a concerned staff member contacted her, expressing concern about what was occurring to the kit foxes. (Read the story in this issue of The Rip)