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Nesvik looks to build on experience, past priorities for WGFD

Written by Saige

Cheyenne – On March 1, Brian Nesvik was appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon as Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), replacing Scott Talbott, who retired in early 2019. 

“Brian Nesvik brings tremendous experience in dealing with wildlife management, endangered species and law enforcement throughout the state,” Gov. Gordon said.

Nesvik, who stepped into the position after serving as WGFD Chief Game Warden, looks forward to continuing his career with the agency to enhance wildlife and address wildlife issues across the state. 

Wildlife career

Nesvik is a native Wyomingite. He was raised in Casper and graduated from high school in Cheyenne.

“I went to work for WGFD in 1995, where I served as a game warden all over the state,” he explained. “I served as game warden in Glendo, Laramie, Casper, Elk Mountain and Pinedale. Then, I went to Cody as a regional supervisor.” 

During that time, Nesvik oversaw a large staff of game wardens, biologists and administrative staffers, and he also spent time working with biologists and wardens in some of the most remote country in the lower 48 states.

After only 10 months in Cody, Nesvik was promoted to Chief Game Warden eight years ago. 

In addition to his WGFD career, Nesvik has served 32 years in the Army National Guard, and he currently serves as the Commanding General of the Wyoming National Guard.

“Serving as director was never in my long-term plans, but as I advanced in the department, I began to work on higher-level policy work in my previous job. I saw opportunities to really influence and work on important wildlife issues,” Nesvik commented. “This is a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to serving the state.”

WGFD priorities

As Nesvik looks over the next several years, he sees WGFD will continue to focus on its top issues of endangered species, migration corridors and chronic wasting disease, while also highlighting cheatgrass impacts on habitats and relationships with landowners. 

“Certainly, endangered species issues – including grizzly bears and wolves, continue to be at the top of our priority list,” Nesvik emphasized. “We have management authority over wolves now, so that is less of an issue, but grizzly bears continue to be a real challenge.” 

At the same time, aquatic invasives species (AIS) pose a continual threat to Wyoming’s waterways and fish. 

“It’s important that we continue to put up a very good defense against AIS, and we need to keep our eye on monitoring,” he said. “There is an opportunity be a leader on another invasive species – cheatgrass. We must do a better job as a state in dealing with cheatgrass.” 

Nesvik called cheatgrass the “cancer of Wyoming,” which must be addressed to maintain habitats for both wildlife and livestock. 

“Migration corridors are certainly a big issue today, as well,” he continued. “We have some of the best science in the world on how to define where big game animals, specifically mule deer, move and what habitats they need to move from summer to winter.” 

“There are opportunities to make sure Wyoming is a leader in establishing migration corridors and does it right,” Nesvik said. 

Chronic wasting disease also poses a continued issue for wildlife populations. 

“We have some tremendous research needs and potentially opportunities to explore significant management actions to deal with the spread of disease and the prevalence of disease in herds,” he explained.

Partnerships

As he looks toward his next several years, Nesvik comments partnerships between WGFD, landowners and livestock producers will continue to be vital to the work of WGFD. 

“We have what I would consider an exemplary relationship between our department and present landowners and livestock producers in our state,” he said. “That is a pretty cool opportunity, especially because 50 percent of our state is private land.”

Nesvik continued, “Frankly, we wouldn’t have the abundance and diversity of wildlife that we do without private landowners providing habitat.” 

Expanding leadership

Currently, WGFD has posted Nesvik’s former position, Wildlife Division chief, as well as WGFD deputy director, and the agency is seeking qualified candidates for both positions. 

“Right now, both positions are open, and we’ll go through the selection process for each position in the near future to fill those jobs,” Nesvik said, adding, however, that the structure of WGFD will be maintained. 

“We’re certainly interested in looking at ways we can be more efficient and effective,” Nesvik commented, “and I see the potential for development of initiatives that fit into our strategic plan.”

Over the last several years, WGFD developed a strategic plan informed by constituents from around the state, and Nesvik said it provides a solid framework for the next five to 10 years.

“I am incredibly honored by this opportunity to lead a team of the best and brightest in managing world-class natural resources for the citizens of our great state,” Nesvik said.  “I am grateful for the Governor’s appointment and will discharge my duties commensurate with the tremendous value Wyoming places in our outdoors, our fish and our wildlife.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..