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Fox photographers moved to DNR & BLM land; Can the National Monument fix the fox problem?

Islanders breathed a sigh of relief when San Juan Island National Historic Park staff listened to concerns and tightened up the regulations about photographing foxes at American Camp. Unfortunately, many thoughtless photographers, some participating in expensive guided tours by mainland companies, have moved their activity just a bit  south east.

The presence of two dozen photographers is preventing the vixen from hunting for food for her kits.

To complicate matters the new favorite spot is in an area where jurisdiction is a bit tricky.  State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land abuts BLM land. The BLM land is part of  San Juan Islands National Monument

Purple shows the National Park, light gray is DNR, gold is BLM

How can the foxes be protected?. Can the SJINM and DNR establish rules similar to the ones at the San Juan Islands National Historic Park. Those rules include a 75-foot distance from the dens and the foxes, no tripods, no going off designated paths among other regulations. The most important is DO NOT FEED the foxes. Sadly, the last rule is violated often by clueless people who don't realize they are harming the wild animal. 

Long term local photographers keep their distance and use patience and long lenses to capture their image. Brad Pillow photo

According to the National Monument website: The San Juan Islands National Monument is a trove of scientific and historic treasures, a REFUGE for an array of wildlife, and a classroom for generations of Americans. (emphasis added). President Obama signed a presidential proclamation to protect, conserve, and restore these BLM lands through the designation of the San Juan Islands National Monument on March 25, 2013. 

Cattle Point Light at the southern tip of San Juan Island is part of the National Monument. Photo by BLM

The Monument encompasses approximately 1,000 acres of land spread across many of these rocks and islands and managed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The Cattle Point Light area is part of the Monument. 

The new San Juan Islands National Monument Manager is Brie Chartier who started May 9, 2022.

BLM Spokane District Manager Kurt Pindel said, "Brie is an experienced planner with a background in outdoor and environmental education, to include being a Leave No Trace Master Educator,” Pindel said. “Brie also has a strong background in collaborative leadership, consensus building and building partnerships. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Johnson State College and should be a great addition to the local community.” 

The San Juan Islands National Monument office is located at 37 Washburn Place, Lopez Island, WA 98261 and may be reached by phone at 360-468-3754. Email:  blm_or_sanjuanislandsnm@blm.gov or bchartier@blm.gov

The DNR property on Cattle Point is designated a Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). According to their website: Natural Resources Conservation Areas Natural Resource Conservation Areas protect outstanding examples of native ecosystems, habitat for endangered, threatened and sensitive plants and animals, and scenic landscapes. Environmental education and low-impact public use are appropriate on conservation areas where they do not impair the protected features. Critical habitat is conserved in NRCAs for many plant and animal species, including rare species. NRCAs include coastal and high elevation forests, alpine lakes, wetlands, scenic vistas, nesting birds of prey, rocky headlands and high-quality native plant communities. Conservation areas also protect geologic, cultural, historical, and archeological sites. More than 125,577 acres are conserved in 39 Washington State NRCAs.

Contact information: 

Paul McFarland
Northwest Region
Natural Areas Manager

There is also a full page of contact information posted here







  • Jaime Ellsworth Friday, 13 May 2022 18:47 Comment Link Report

    The condition of the vixen (mom) is deteriorating, her food sources are being impacted by the number of people entering her hunting area. It appears that the sheer number of people coming into the area are causing her distress as she retreats further away from her kits. This is also a protected area for the marble butterfly. Although, it may be completely legal for the presence of photographers and curious people.......it is truly a question of morality. Are their photographs and in person views of a wild family that necessary to risk stress and harm to innocent creatures? Are the dollars they garner for their tours justifiable collateral damage for the harm they are causing? Apparently the dollar or selfish gain wins again.

  • PETER DELORENZI Thursday, 12 May 2022 08:39 Comment Link Report

    Being a 35+ year San Juan Islander I have heard several explanations of the progression of rabbits, ferrets and foxes on the island. Can you shed an historically correct explanation of what is attributed to nature and what is attributed to man?

  • heyoka Wednesday, 11 May 2022 17:06 Comment Link Report

    the fox like the deer have assimilated here, they love the attention. they are not a threat, we are not a threat, get over it. worry about the Orcas they are the threatened. They are starving, take down the dams we have broken the cycle

  • Madrona Murphy Wednesday, 11 May 2022 07:41 Comment Link Report

    There is a San Juan Islands National Monument Advisory Committee meeting on May 18th (on Zoom) with time for public comment

    Zoom info on this page https://www.blm.gov/get-involved/resource-advisory-council/near-you/oregon-washington/san-juan-islands-mac

    Federal Register notice here https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/01/12/2022-00469/notice-of-public-meetings-for-the-san-juan-islands-national-monument-advisory-committee-washington

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