My name is Jake Ure, and I am the newest Wildlife Damage Specialist (WDS) in Webster, South Dakota covering Day and Marshall counties. For those of you curious as to what a WDS does, we help with a variety of issues with species like Canada geese, coyote, beaver, deer and turkey. Depending on the circumstances we have an array of tools we can implement to help resolve the issues. If you ever have questions or concerns, you can look up your local Wildlife Damage Specialist and we will be happy to help you.
I got my start growing up in Lake Preston, South Dakota. I was your typical small-town kid that played sports and spent time hunting, fishing and trapping in my free time. After high school, I decided to enlist in the Army and spent the next five years on active duty.
While in the Army I was an engineer and got to do a lot of traveling and learned how to work with people from all over the world. My favorite place I was ever stationed was Fort Richardson, Alaska. While in Alaska my love for the outdoors peaked and I knew that I wanted a career working with wildlife.
Once I got out of the Army, I started going to college at South Dakota State University for Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. During those summer months, I worked as an intern for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks doing Canada goose depredation work. Because of the timing and different opportunities, I didn’t start working full time for the State immediately after graduating from college.
My first full-time job required moving my family to Arizona where my responsibility was being a wolf specialist for Wildlife Services under the Department of Agriculture where I worked with the Mexican Grey Wolf. While in this position I was responsible for conducting depredation investigations on livestock, capturing and collaring wolves, as well as reducing livestock loss to predators. When conducting investigations, I encountered kills made by wolves, coyote, bears, mountain lions, and feral dogs on livestock, ranging from sheep and goats to bulls and horses.
One of my tasks was to ensure that we had a certain percentage of wolves in each pack that had working tracking collars. To accomplish this, trapping was the primary technique, but there was opportunity throughout the year to use a helicopter to dart and put collars on the wolves. This was important because I could identify if the wolves from a specific pack were responsible for a depredation incident.
In some cases, we could identify a specific wolf based on various measurements we gathered while putting the collars on the wolves. Any future depredation issues were then compared to GPS data gathered from the tracking collars to determine problematic wolves targeting domestic livestock. If a specific wolf was identified in multiple depredation cases, we would then get direction to remove the wolf from the wild, via targeted trapping the specific wolf and then placing it in captivity.
After working in Arizona for about a year I had an opportunity to work with the Natural Resource Conservation Service here in Webster, SD. While working for the NRCS I worked as a soil conservationist and helped administer programs like CRP, CSP, and EQIP. During that time, I was able to meet and work with many landowners in Day County. One of my favorite parts of this job was the opportunity to learn how and why people operate the way they do. This allowed me to find programs to fit their needs without asking them to change everything about their operation.
Last but certainly not least, after working with the NRCS for about a year I couldn’t pass up my dream opportunity to become a Wildlife Damage Specialist. I was offered this position in March 2022 and am excited to continue to work with everyone in the Webster area. If anyone needs to contact me, you can do so by contacting the Webster office at (605) 345-3381.
Jake Ure is a Wildlife Damage Specialist with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
Full story here.