Announcing the presentation of first Walter E. “Howdy” Howard Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted: 03.21.2018

The Vertebrate Pest Council recently awarded the inaugural Walter E. “Howdy” Howard Lifetime Achievement Award at the 28th Vertebrate Pest Conference held in Rohnert Park, CA from February 26–March 1, 2018.  The Vertebrate Pest Conference is widely considered the most recognized conference of its kind; participants and attendees include leading authorities on human wildlife conflict/vertebrate pest management from around the world.  The award was named after Howdy Howard, who was a long-time faculty member in WFCB at UC Davis.  One of the inaugural recipients of the award was Rex Marsh, who was a Specialist and Lecturer in WFCB for many years.  Both were true giants in the profession and very much worthy of this recognition.  Dr. Robert Timm was also selected as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

See below for a short biography of the award namesake (Howdy Howard), as well as the two inaugural award winners (Rex Marsh and Robert Timm).


Walter E. ‘Howdy’ Howard

Walter E. The Walter E. “Howdy” Howard Lifetime Achievement Award is named after a true pioneer and pillar in the vertebrate pest control profession.  Born in 1917, Howdy’s love for biology began as a young child.  He graduated from U.C. Berkeley, served three years during WWII, primarily focusing on disease and parasite control, and completed his M.S. and PhD at the University of Michigan.  He joined the faculty at U.C. Davis in 1947 as professor of Wildlife Ecology.  During his lifelong tenure at Davis, he developed the field of vertebrate ecology including vertebrate pest control, making UC Davis a premier international research and teaching institute in this field.  His research focused on rodents impacting agriculture and public health, predators especially coyotes and the politics of dealing with wildlife-human conflicts.  He was committed to making state and federal agencies good stewards of wildlife populations and their habitats, and that the political structure ensures wildlife populations and humans coexist. Howdy is especially known for his perspective on the balance of nature and his direct challenge of the arguments posed by groups who are opposed to controlling wildlife populations. Howdy’s impact on our profession and personal legacy live on today through the 44 Ph.D. and M.S. students he advised and mentored at U.C. Davis and the countless professionals influenced by his personal interactions and writing.  It is with great honor that we name this award after Howdy.


Rex E. Marsh

Rex E MarshRex has devoted his life to vertebrate pest management. He is considered one of the top international experts on rodents and rodent management, but has broad knowledge of the entire vertebrate pest field.  Rex began working in the field of pest management for the Santa Clara County Department of Agriculture in 1955 and the State of California Department of Agriculture in 1959.  Recognized for his expertise and abilities, he began working at the University of California, Davis in 1964. Throughout his career, Rex has sparked countless students and others to pursue vertebrate pest management as a career, influenced the development of new, innovative and environmentally appropriate materials and methods, and ultimately raised the field of vertebrate pest management to the profession it is today.  Rex authored over 250 publications during his career and continues to publish even in retirement (80+ to date!).  Rex first attended the Vertebrate Pest Conference in 1964 (2nd VPC) and published his first article in the Conference Proceedings in 1967 (3rd VPC), Aircraft as a Means of Baiting Ground Squirrels.  Rex became a Vertebrate Pest Council board member in 1964, twice served as Council Chair and serving as editor or co-editor of the Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference eleven times between 1972 and 1992.  His commitment to the Council and Conference has never ebbed.  Rex truly embodies the concept of lifetime achievement in Vertebrate Pest Management. 


Robert M. Timm

Robert M. TimmDr. Timm began working in the field of vertebrate pest management in 1970 when he conducted a senior honors project at the University of Redlands surveying parasites in local populations of Norway rats.  He went on to study under both Howdy Howard and Rex Marsh at the University of California, Davis where he received both this masters and doctoral degree.  In 1983, he compiled, edited and published the first edition of the most-used reference in the field of vertebrate pest management, Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. From 1987 until his retirement in 2014 Bob was a Wildlife Extension Specialist and Director of the Hopland Research and Extension Center, University of California.  Throughout his career, Bob has been active with the Vertebrate Pest Conference, first attending in 1974 (6th VPC) and first publishing in the conference proceedings in 1982 (10th VPC), An IPM Approach to Rodent Control on Midwestern Farms.  Bob became an active member of the Vertebrate Pest Council in 1989, served twice as the Chair and has been the managing editor of the Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference nine times between 1996 and 2016.  Throughout Bob’s 47 years in our profession he has demonstrated the highest professional standard for vertebrate pest management professionals, influenced countless students, professionals and public citizens, and worked tirelessly to make the Vertebrate Pest Conference the premier conference for our profession.