API wildlife director Camilla Fox returns to school to help coyotes
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2008:
PRESCOTT, Arizona–Camilla Fox, the 10-year director of
wildlife programs for the Animal Protection Institute, is now
pursuing a master’s degree at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona
as recipient of the first Christine Stevens Wildlife Award,
presented by the Animal Welfare Institute. AWI founder Stevens
headed the AWI from 1951 until her death in 2002.
The $10,000 award “aims to advance research in the
often-overlooked area of non-lethal wildlife management,” explains
the AWI web site.
Fox at API waged prominent campaigns on behalf of many
species, but coyotes were of special concern to her. Her father
Michael W. Fox is a prominent researcher of canine history, a
longtime syndicated veterinary columnist, and a former vice
president of the Humane Society of the U.S., “who did field
research studying the behavior of wild canids, so I always had them
around me while I was growing up,” Fox recalls.
Beginning in humane work by “raising money for the local
animal shelter and doing foster care for abandoned cats,” Fox
finally found a chance to do something specific for coyotes in 2000.
This eventually changed her approach to activism and led to her
return to school.
“I led an effort in my home county, Marin, California, to
stop the federal government from using the poison Compound 1080 to
kill coyotes and other predators,” Fox recounts. “This led to a
battle against a taxpayer-subsidized program to kill native
carnivores throughout Marin County. We were ultimately successful in
banning Compound 1080 and other predator killing methods in Marin and
indeed statewide through a public ballot initiative, but this
alienated a large portion of the ranching community to the point
where I realized the backlash might nullify our gains. For the first
time,” Fox remembers, “I sat down face to face with ranchers and
our county agricultural commissioner, and worked out a plan that
ultimately supports ranchers and helps them protect their livestock
from predation, while ensuring that native predators remain on the
Fox estimates that about 75% of the 10,000 sheep in Marin
County are now protected by the use of guard dogs, llamas (who chase
coyotes and other predatory animals out of their territory), and
electric fencing. The county shares the cost.
After five years the predation rate has dropped to 2.2%.
This includes predation by other species, such as pumas and eagles,
who kill some lambs. The county reimburses up to 5% losses, yet the
program still costs less than the eradication program did.
Fox’s master’s thesis is tentatively entitled An Analysis of
the Marin County Strategic Plan for Livestock and Wildlife
Protection. Says Fox, “I hope to demonstrate that this program
meets the needs of both the ranching and conservation communities,
and can be used as a model for other communities to emulate.”
–Mary K. Croft