UWRP is a partnership between citizen scientists and ethologists Bill Leikam and Greg Kerekes.
Bill Leikam, President & CEO conducts unprecedented field research on the behavior of the gray fox. He is on the Board of Directors for Guadalupe-Coyote Resource Conservation District. Bill has many accomplishments to his name including being a published live jazz reviewer for All About Jazz. In 1981 he was a Delegate to the People’s Republic of China based on his research into the nature of consciousness. He is quoted saying, “ We cannot call ourselves civilized until we freely give all living things on planet Earth their rightful place beside us.” March 2014, William C. Leikam
About the Urban Wildlife Research Project
The Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP) unofficially began in 2009 when Bill the Fox Guy Leikam came upon a gray fox sitting beside an old dirt road in the San Francisco Bay baylands of Central California. Out of sheer curiosity, Bill returned for several consecutive mornings and on the third such morning, he saw that there were three young gray foxes across the road and under the edge of a thicket. He suddenly realized that there was not just one gray fox but a family of them living there in that thicket.
Bill began coming along that road, sat across from the foxes and began jotting down notes on their behavior on his Post-It pad. This very act began the Gray Fox Log. As of this writing December 22, 2019 the log presently stands at 1697 pages and 622,620 words and still growing daily. We use this log to glean new information about the behavior of the gray fox.
In 2012, Greg Kerekes asked to join Bill on one of his morning rituals of observing these foxes. At first Bill was reluctant but then finding out that Greg consulted with several conservation units in Silicon Valley and that he was a true naturalist and videographer, Bill accepted Greg’s request and it was from then on that the two of them engaged in the video filming of the gray fox. See The Gray Foxes of Silicon Valley The Gray Foxes of Silicon Valley. Bill, when asked why he took Greg on as a companion in the beginning and a partner as time passed, but had rejected several others who wanted to join him, Bill said, “When I got to know Greg a little bit, I knew that he was authentic and compassionate in his attitudes toward wildlife. Others who wanted to go with me had no background in wildlife research whereas Greg did. Others wanted to join me just to see the foxes.”
One morning in 2013 Bill brought up the notion that they should establish a company that does research on urban wildlife. Greg asked, “What should we call it?” Right from off the top of his head, in that very moment, Bill replied, “Oh something like the Urban Wildlife Research Project.” It stuck like Crazy Glue.
Bill began receiving email from various organizations asking him to give a presentation on his findings. The very first one was the Environmental Volunteers EcoCenter at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve to a standing room only gathering of people, far more than had been expected. This kicked off a series of presentations titled “A Year with the Urban Gray Fox.” These talks initiated a series of newspaper articles about their work as the UWRP began to grow and become known nationally. It was at Bill’s presentation on the Google World Headquarters’ Campus that just at the very beginning of his PowerPoint presentation that a young woman rushed through the doors, came to the front row and took the only open seat in the room next to Rick Lanman. Once everything was finished, she approached Bill and introduced herself as Beth Pratt the California representative for the National Wildlife Federation. She said that she was amazed at what he and Greg had presented and without delay she offered Bill and Greg the opportunity to partner with the NWF.
Growth continued to take hold as word spread. In March of 2018 the Urban Wildlife Research Project officially became a recognized 501 C3 nonprofit. By then they had an administrative assistant. From there volunteers came into the scene, including a grants manager. The team began to take shape and forge the future of the UWRP. When asked about the core impetus for the UWRP, Bill replies with, “My intense curiosity. It has simply grown from those early years. It is the engine that moves me and the UWRP forward.”
Questions or Comments for UWRP? Report your urban wildlife or roadkill sightings to us and we’ll use your information to help wildlife.
Adopt a Trail Camera
One of the tools we use to help us gain insight into the everyday lives of wildlife is the trail camera. We us high definition video, motion sensitive, camera’s with infrared capabilities so we can track wildlife at night. You can help the wildlife of Silicon Valley by contributing to our research. With a donation of $250 or more, contributors can adopt one or more trail cameras and will receive their names and web links on our Contributors page, a monthly update of their camera’s findings, and a hike through your camera’s location to connect you to the space of study.
To Adopt a Trail Camera or contribute any amount to our project please use PayPal through the donate button below.