Foster jumps in as WS directorWritten by Saige Albert
Casper – Mike Foster has 17 years under his belt working for USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS), and two months ago, he stepped in as State Director for the agency in Wyoming. Foster replaces long-time WS Wyoming Director Rod Krischke.
“I’m excited to be in Wyoming to continue the good things that Rod did,” Foster says. “This is a career advancement for me, but more importantly, I’m excited for the opportunities it offers.”
Foster began his career at WS shortly after graduating from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah with a degree in Zoology.
“I started working for Idaho Fish and Game right after graduation from college. I was there for a few years and quickly decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he says. “Shortly after leaving Idaho Fish and Game, I learned about WS, and I started as a trapper in Idaho.”
A Rigby, Idaho native, Foster always enjoyed trapping, wildlife and the outdoors.
“I always had a love for trapping,” Foster continues. “I was a trapper, avid outdoorsman and loved to hunt and fish, so his was a really good fit for me.”
Foster notes that he worked with local sheepmen in predator control for a number of years in Soda Springs, Idaho – just across the border from Star Valley. Foster worked in Idaho for 10 years before moving to Oregon, where he worked for WS for a year.
Prior to taking the state director position in Wyoming, he served as a district supervisor in eastern Montana.
“I was in Montana for six and a half years,” he says. “Wyoming provided a great opportunity, and I started here just over two months ago.”
Continuing to build
Foster sees many merits in Wyoming’s program, and he hopes to continue to advance the program.
“As state director, I feel that I have a great opportunity to develop and continue to grow a program that is already successful,” Foster comments. “For me personally, it is an exciting challenge to make my mark, as opposed to just doing what a boss tells me.”
He adds, “I have more flexibility to influence the program as state director, and I’m excited about that chance.”
With consistent praises for the program, Foster particularly sees the chance to improve a sense of community and family within predator districts throughout the state.
“I want to try to develop better continuity in the WS program throughout the state,” he says. “I think in the past, many of the WS districts have run independently, and I would like to help develop a feeling of camaraderie in our program.”
Foster continues, “To me, WS has always been a family. I don’t want our trappers and cooperators to feel like WS is just another government agency, because I don’t feel like we are. I want to develop a feeling of family and ownership throughout the state.”
Interfacing with the livestock industry
Foster is also looking forward to working with Wyoming’s agriculture community and getting to know more producers in the state.
“Some of the same sheepmen I worked for when I first started are here in Wyoming,” he says. “The livestock industry is a huge part of our economy in Wyoming. It is also the heritage of the state and what Wyoming was built on.”
“We have a great stewardship as wildlife professionals to continue to support the ag industry and help those folks survive,” Foster notes. “This is a challenging time to survive in ag with the mega-predators we have today. Wolves and grizzly bears make it tough to make a living, and I think WS plays a big role in helping there.”
Foster also comments that his proudest moments in working within the agency come from the time he spent as a trapper.
“I’m most proud of the 10 years I spent as a trapper in the field working with sheepmen and helping them solve their depredation problems,” he says.
As he works through the first year of his career in Wyoming, Foster will travel the state, attending as many predator board meetings as he gets the invitation to attend. As WS director, he is a member of the Animal Damage Management Board.
He will also be attending producer conventions to begin building relationships within the agriculture industry.
“I’m a great supporter of the agriculture industry, and I’m looking forward to working with the livestock producers of Wyoming,” Foster says. “I want to be a tool and be available if they have questions and comments.”