August 2005 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a meeting of the National Wildlife Services Advisory Committee June 21-23 at the USDA?s National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colo. Two sheep industry representatives, Nina Baucus, a Montana rancher, and Maurice Shelton, Ph.D., a Texas rancher and past Texas A&M educator, formally participated in the meeting.
?The reason the meeting was held in Fort Collins, as opposed to Washington, D.C., was so that our committee could tour the research facility and see the kind of work being done. Many don?t realize what all goes on there,? says Baucus.
Their focus for this meeting was on policies, program issues and research activities within Wildlife Services.
Members of the committee advise the secretary of agriculture on USDA?s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service?s Wildlife Services program activities, research and policies. They also serve as a public forum enabling those affected by the wildlife services program to have a voice in the program?s policies. The diverse membership of the committee represents the many cooperators in the Wildlife Services program, from airport officials to sunflower and sheep producers, as well as animal rights/welfare organizations.
Baucus says that many topics were covered during the meeting, such as non-lethal methods for dealing with predators, damage of urban settings caused by wildlife, financial shortages for field work, safeguards for the importation of animals and a national wildlife disease-strategy program. The committee?s full recommendations to the secretary of agriculture will soon be available to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
Baucus is involved in all phases of her family owned sheep, cattle and goat operation. She has served on the ASI executive board, on numerous committees of the Montana Wool Growers Association and as chairman of the Governor?s Advisory Committee ? Private Lands/Public Wildlife.
Shelton has dealt with depredation for more than 50 years on animals from his own ranch and through the experiences of other ranchers, as well as with the flocks and herds owned by the Texas Agricultural Extension Station. He has conducted research and participated in educational programs relating to prevention of predation and served on the editorial committee for a special edition of the Sheep and Goat Research Journal: Predation.