Wildlife Activist Fined for Phone Threat to Rival : North Hills: The dispute arose between protectors of the red fox and a rare species of sparrow.


A North Hills environmental activist has been convicted of threatening the head of a rival group during a dispute over which of Mother Nature's creatures needs more protection--the red fox or its prey, the rare Belding's savannah sparrow.

Peggy Randall, 56, was ordered by Los Angeles Municipal Judge Anita Dymant to pay $405 in fines and court costs stemming from her conviction Friday on one count of making annoying or threatening phone calls.

All Randall told her rival was that she was going to "kick her butt, or words to that effect," according to Mary Sheehy, president of the Wildlife Protection League, of which Randall is former vice president.

Randall made the call on July 24 to Ruth Lansford of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands group, which has been engaged in a campaign to protect the rare species of sparrow that nests in the wetlands near Marina del Rey.

Supporters of the sparrow say there may be as few as one mating pair of the birds in the wetlands, and that the predators have also cut deeply into the area's native shrew and mole populations.

As a result, the supporters have been trapping the foxes, which also live in the wetlands.

But the Wildlife Protection League has led a fight to protect the fox, saying the trapping program is inhumane.

The threatening call to Lansford was followed July 29 by three other calls left on her answering machine by unknown people.

Deputy City Atty. Teddy Eden, who handled the case, said the verdict was returned by the jury after just one hour of deliberation at the end of a four-day trial.

In addition to imposing a fine, Dymant placed Randall on 18 months' summary probation and prohibited her from telephoning Lansford.

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