Contributor: Anne Ryan Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
COTTAM, CLARENCE (1899–1974). Clarence Cottam, biologist and conservationist, son of Thomas P. and Emmaline (Jarvis) Cottam, was born in St. George, Utah, on January 1, 1899. He was raised in this rural community and worked as a farm and ranch hand. His concern for wildlife led him to dedicate himself to wildlife research and conservation. He attended Dixie College in 1919–20 and the University of Utah in the summer of 1923; he graduated A.B. from Brigham Young University in 1926 and received a master's degree there in 1927. While there he was principal of the Alamo, Nevada, schools. From 1927 to 1929 he was instructor of biology at Brigham Young. In 1929 Cottam became a junior biologist on the research staff of the United States Biological Survey in Washington, and by 1934 he was senior biologist in charge of food-habits research. He earned his Ph.D. at George Washington University in 1936. In 1939 the United States Biological Survey became the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Cottam eventually served as chief of wildlife research in the agency. He became assistant director in 1945 and remained in that position for eight years. In 1954, after twenty-five years of government work, he returned to Brigham Young University as professor of biology and the dean of the College of Biological and Agricultural Sciences. A year later he agreed to help organize and to become the head of the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation and Refuge in Sinton, Texas, where he served as director until his death.
Cottam was involved in conservational causes and affiliated with several conservational and humanitarian organizations. In 1969 he fought against the use of a highly toxic pesticide in Texas, arguing that it would harm the Gulf Coast bays. He also helped research the long-range effects of DDT and campaigned for the control of its use. He was involved in the establishment of the Island National Seashore on the Gulf of Mexico and the expansion of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. He was an advocate of the cause to save the whooping crane, bald eagle, brown pelican, and other endangered species. Among his many memberships, Cottam belonged to the Wildlife Society of America (president, 1949–50), the National Parks Association (president or chairman of the board, 1960–74), the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the Ecological Society of America, the Soil Conservation Society of America, the American Forestry Association, the Society for Range Management, the National Academy of Sciences, the Texas Academy of Scienceqv, and the Texas Ornithological Society (president, 1957). His published works include Food Habits of North American Diving Ducks (1939), Insects: A Guide to Familiar American Insects (1951), Whitewings: The Life History, Status, and Management of the White-winged Dove (1968), and numerous magazine articles for such periodicals as Audubon Magazine, National Parks Magazine, and Living Wilderness. Cottam's honors include the National Audubon Society's Distinguished Service Award (1961) and a citation from the National Wildlife Federation in 1964 for his work in conservation. He also received similar recognition from the Audubon Naturalist Society, Brigham Young University, and the Department of the Interior.
On May 20, 1920, Cottam married Margery Brown; they had four daughters. Cottam was a Mormon. He died on March 30, 1974, and was buried at Orem, Utah.
Lauren Williams, "COTTAM, CLARENCE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcoav), accessed July 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Contributor: Anne Ryan Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
Clarence was born on January 1, 1899, in St. George, Utah, the son of pioneer Mormon farmers. He earned BS (1926) and MS (1927) degrees from Brigham Young University, and a PhD degree (1936) from George Washington University. After serving as instructor in biology at Brigham Young University (1927-29), Clarence was junior biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey (1929-31), assistant biologist (1931-35), and senior biologist in charge of food habits, Division of Wildlife Research (1935-40). He also held the latter position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1940-42) and was in charge of economic wildlife investigations, Division of Wildlife Research (1942-44). In 1944, he became assistant to the Service director, and served as chief of the Division of Wildlife Research, 1944-46, and again as assistant director, 1946-54. Upon retirement from federal service in 1954, Cottam became dean of the College of Biological and Agricultural Sciences at Brigham Young University.
A year later, Clarence became the first director of the Welder Wildlife Foundation in Sinton, Texas. Nearly 150 students from 39 North American universities attained graduate degrees studying on Foundation property and elsewhere under the Foundation’s sponsorship and Clarence’s administration.
Clarence’s many awards include an honorary award of Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters (1948), the Laval University Medal (1952), Aldo Leopold Award of The Wildlife Society (1955), Distinguished Service Award in Conservation and Forestry of Utah State University (1957), National Audubon Conservation Distinguished Service Medal (1961), Poage Humanitarian Award, Society of Animal Protection (1962), Frances K. Hutchinson Medal of the Garden Club of America (1962), Paul Bartsch Award of the Audubon Naturalist Society (1962), Conservation Service Award of the Department of the Interior (1965), and the Talmadege Scientific Achievement Award form Brigham Young University (1971).
Author or co-author of approximately 250 scientific papers, Clarence is possibly best known for his book Food Habits of American Diving Ducks (1939) and his consummate skill and effectiveness in championing environmental needs and wise use of natural resources.
His foremost professional passions were birdlife, wetlands, fighting against pesticide abuses, and pursuing the study or defense of each with peerless dedication. He was a man of great energy, wit, intellect, conviction, and integrity. He was a true scientist.
Clarence had an extraordinary number of professional affiliations, and many benefited directly from his leadership. Those for which he served as president included The Wildlife Society (1949-50), Texas Ornithological Society (1957-58), National Parks Association (1960-63), and Council of Southwest Foundations (1962-63). He also was a trustee of the J. N. (“Ding”) Darling Foundation and the Rachel Carson Trust.
Clarence was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1934.
He died on March 30, 1974, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
"Clarence Cottom". United States Geological Survey. Accessed on July 22, 2014 at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/resshow/perry/bios/CottamClarence.htm