By Terry Messmer | October 20th, 2019

Jack H. Berryman Institute for Wildlife Damage Management

Berryman Institute

Public Lands Initiative funds provided to the Berryman Institute at Utah State University, and matching funds from the Society for Range Management, The Wildlife Society, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Nevada Association of Conservation Districts, Public Land Foundation, Protect the Harvest, and Eureka County Nevada enabled the institute to launch a new national grassroots initiative focused on the management of feral and invasive species.

The effects of the over 4,000 invasive plant and animal species present in the U.S., cost society billions of dollars in terms of lost biological diversity (especially species at risk), productivity, environmental integrity, and wildlife and human health. Wild or feral horses (free-roaming equids) was the first invasive species, and now the only one with federal protection. Today, an estimated 150,000 free-roaming equids inhabit federal, state, tribal, and private lands. Given annual growth rates of 15%, by 2035, this population could exceed 1 million animals. The number of wild horse and burros inhabiting designated herd management areas in the western U.S. is three times the allowable management level.

Thanks to Public Lands Initiative and patronship supporter, the Berryman Institute hosted the 2019 Free-roaming Equid and Ecosystem Sustainability Summit in Reno, Nevada. Over 90 delegates representing academia, sportsman groups, rangeland habitat management, wildlife management, equid advocacy, conservation, Native American tribes, and state and local governments were in attendance.

Jessica Tegt, the former coordinator of the USDA Wildlife Services National Training Center, was hired thanks to Public Lands Initiative support, as the Institute’s Outreach and Engagement Specialist to coordinate national, regional, state, and private effort to better manage feral and invasive species. She is also coordinating efforts to host a national symposium about blackbird, vulture, and corvid management, Salt Lake City, February 2020 and coordinating the National Wild Pig Task Force to eradicate feral swine, In Utah, she is working with Utah County Extension agents to assess and better manage the impacts of human-wildlife conflicts in rural and urban areas.

Professor Terry Messmer, Department of Wildland Resources, director of the Berryman Institute, Terry.Messmer@usu.edu