Arkansas member recognized for 50 years of federal service

By William H. Clay, Deputy Administrator, USDA Wildlife Services

Mr. Booth with his staff. ©USDA Wildlife Services

Not much keeps working, with achievement, after 50 years. Vehicles qualify for “historic” license plates after 25 years and marriages lasting 50 years are celebrated as “golden”. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture we recognized a milestone when Thurman Booth, charter member of the TWS Arkansas Chapter, marked 50 years of federal service – as well as of TWS membership. A Certified Wildlife Biologist® since 1991, Thurman has told me this is just the midpoint of his career.

A graduate of Louisiana State University in zoology (B.S.) and game management (M.S.), Thurman joined the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife in February 1966 as a trainee in the Division of Wildlife Services, a precursor to USDA’s Wildlife Services. That fall he transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas as the assistant state supervisor there. He has served, under a variety of titles, as the Wildlife Services lead in Arkansas since 1968.

Thurman Booth, CWB and WS-Arkansas state director, receiving plaque and letter from USDA Secretary Vilsack from John McConnell, CWB and WS Eastern Region Assistant State Director. ©USDA Wildlife Services

Thurman Booth, CWB and WS-Arkansas state director, receiving plaque and letter from USDA Secretary Vilsack from John McConnell, CWB and WS Eastern Region Assistant State Director. ©USDA Wildlife Services

Given the state’s agricultural commodities, one focus of the operations he supervises has been protecting field crops from blackbirds and aquaculture from fish-eating birds. Dispersal techniques have been a significant focus, conserving wildlife populations while resolving damage situations. In the past five years in Arkansas, more than 95% of the wildlife encountered by his staff have been chased away from the damage area.

Originally intending to work in the west, Thurman says Arkansas has everything he could want except for a coastal marsh. What kept him in Arkansas are hunting, fishing, “cooperative fine people” and a strong staff to work with. The continually changing diversity of damage management has always been challenging. He believes, “Whether it’s moving a massive nuisance bird roost out of town or removing feral swine to allow a farmer success in a corn crop, people appreciate the efforts and see it as a time where government has helped them.”

Well-known for his leadership, coalition building skills, and outreach efforts, in 2008 he received the Administrator’s Civil Rights Award in USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agency. It would be impossible to sum up his half-century of accomplishment in wildlife management here.

Thurman Booth has been a fixture in Wildlife Services my entire career. It is a particular distinction that throughout he has been well-respected by his peers, the wildlife agencies, and industry groups with which he works.

Wildlife Services is a Strategic Partner of TWS.