Cottam, Clarence (Deceased)
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.