Wildlife Damage Management
Sperry was born in 1895 in north-central Kansas where he grew up on his family’s
farm. There he gained his fondness for the outdoors and later became a charter
member of the Wildlife Society. Sperry attended Kansas University in Lawrence,
Kansas, but his education was interrupted by World War I. Sperry served in
the machine gun battalion of the 89th Infantry Division in France where he
was wounded in action. He then resumed his studies at Kansas University and
graduated in 1919.
Sperry established the Denver Laboratory of Food Habits Research in 1932. (This lab was combined with several other BBS labs in 1940 to become the Denver Wildlife Research Center, under the Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.) In a progress report from 1932, Sperry justified laboratory animal stomach examinations. He believed that the laboratory, rather than field examinations, provided greater accuracy for identification of food contents and a better way to compile and calculate data. Previously, most stomach-examinations data tracked the number of items in bulk located in an animal’s stomach. Sperry wanted the ability to calculate the frequency that an item appeared in a stomach, which the lab facilitated.
Initial laboratory research by Sperry in Denver looked at food
habits of the coyote during different seasons.
Sperry wrote a report on the food habits of the peg-leg coyote. Such coyotes
proved to be a greater threat to domestic livestock than four-legged coyotes
and consumed more carrion.
Last Modified: June 28, 2007