Close Search

Professional Resource Advisory Board


Tim Schommer

Tim Schommer

Chair | Idaho

TERM EXPIRES - 2025

My academic foundation is based in wildlife biology, wildlife habitat management and plant and animal ecology, and I feel this compliments my passion for bighorn sheep and mountain goat management and conservation.

As a federal wildlife biologist, I worked for 33 years to restore bighorn sheep herds in Colorado, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Out of that work, I gained the experience and knowledge necessary for specializing in bighorn sheep and mountain goats. For over 20 years, I served as National Bighorn Sheep biologist with the goal of helping State agencies, WSF and other National Forests in conservation, management, and disease of wild sheep. The National Bighorn Sheep program work was very complicated and politically charged with international visibility. One of my best experiences was developing and working on the recovery of Hells Canyon Bighorn Sheep from 1983 to 2010.
I joined national WSF in 1990, and have helped this organization ever since to raise funds, promote conservation, review and rate GIA projects, and give seminars. As a volunteer, I have gained a deep appreciation for the time and money all of us have given to recover wild sheep throughout the west. I have served on the Board of Directors for the Oregon and Idaho Chapters. Since 1993, I have volunteered on the GIA Project Review Committee and the Professional Resource Advisory Board for WSF with the goal of promoting science-based wild sheep biology and management. I received the Federal Statesman Award in 1996 from WSF for my love, dedication, and commitment to wild sheep. Also, I received the Biologist Wall of Fame Award from WSF in 2010 for recognition of my dedication to wild sheep conservation and management.
My love and passion for wild sheep conservation and the WSF continues.

Melanie Woolever

Melanie Woolever

Vice Chair | Colorado

TERM EXPIRES - 2025

I earned a B.S and a M.S. in Wildlife Science from Utah State University.  During the majority of my professional career, I served the American public leading wildlife, including wildlife habitat management programs for the U.S. Forest Service.  It was my honor to be the Forest Service’s National Bighorn Sheep Program Leader for 26 years from 1989 until my retirement in 2015.  In that capacity, I was the technical and administrative leader for all bighorn sheep programs including policy development, issue resolution and relationship development at all four levels of the Agency and with the leadership of other Federal Agencies, the Directors and specialists from State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, disease research scientists, wildlife veterinarians, and non-governmental bighorn sheep and domestic sheep advocacy groups.  I was also the national liaison to the Wild Sheep Foundation (initially FNAWS). A primary responsibility of my bighorn sheep advocacy role involved helping units in 14 western states resolve grazing-based conflicts affecting bighorn sheep in a manner compliant with law, policy and regulation.  Much of this work required developing national policy regarding the role of disease in bighorn sheep viability including the planning and implementation of actions required to avoid potentially fatal pathogen transmission.  While in the position, I was involved in the development and implementation of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wild Sheep Working Group.  One of my most significant accomplishments involved initiating and leading the FS/BLM Bighorn Sheep Working Group, a team of six scientists that developed a science-based, automated tool (the Bighorn Sheep Risk of Contact (ROC) tool) to assess the risk of foraying bighorn sheep contacting domestic sheep allotments, the subsequent risk of disease transmission and the potential for an all-age bighorn sheep die-off.   
I continue being an active bighorn sheep advocate in retirement, serving on the Professional Resource Advisory (PRA) Board and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Wild Sheep Foundation.  I represent the Colorado Wildlife Federation on the state-wide Bighorn Sheep Working Group, am on the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society (RMBS) and frequently provide requested expertise to groups, agencies and municipalities as requested. 
 My expertise and contribution to bighorn sheep conservation has been recognized including being the recipient of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS)/Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) Federal Statesman Award (1998 and 2015), the Wyoming WSF Ron Ball Award (2005), Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society Presidents Award (1993, 2006, 2014), the Wild Sheep Biologist Wall of Fame (2012) and the Oregon FNAWS Federal Statesman Award (2015).


Helen Schwantje

Helen Schwantje

Secretary | British Columbia

TERM EXPIRES - 2026

Helen was the Wildlife Veterinarian for British Columbia from 1992 to 2021, currently in an emeritus status. She graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981 and practiced on a variety of animals including zoo species and, following some international travelling, completed a Master of Science in Veterinary Pathology (specialty in wildlife diseases) in 1987, with a thesis on the evaluation of health status of bighorn sheep herds in the East Kootenay region of BC. That research was funded in part by the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, and she has been a member of FNAWS and the Wild Sheep Foundation since. The postgraduate work led to time as a contract wildlife veterinarian. Some contracts with the BC government provided the impetus to help create and fill a full time, wildlife agency wildlife veterinarian position, the second in Canada. Her focus became the establishment of a formal agency-based Wildlife Health Program to support and aid provincial wildlife enforcement, management, external agencies, and all those involved with conserving the wildlife of the province. The work and research with wild sheep never stopped, changing with the times. In retirement she continues that focus with membership on the PRA Board, as well as supporting several other groups with committee memberships, technical advice, and academia in an adjunct status. In her other life, she has a now 110+ year old farm on Vancouver Island where she has a live off the land hobby, raising domestic sheep and other edibles.

Dr. Vern Bleich

Dr. Vern Bleich

North Dakota

TERM EXPIRES - 2027

Vern Bleich received BS (1970) and MA (1973) degrees from California State University Long Beach and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993. Now retired, he was an employee of the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) for 34 years where he acquired vast knowledge and expertise regarding the distribution, ecology, life histories, and habitat requirements of bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain lions occupying arid ecosystems. During his career with CDFG he was responsible for the restoration of numerous populations of bighorn sheep to then vacant mountain ranges, was a member of the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep Recovery Team, and served as Project Leader of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program from 2001 to 2008, during which he oversaw preparation of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Plan. Vern played a prominent role in writing and advocating for the legislation that legalized the harvest of desert bighorn sheep in California for the first time in more than 100 years. He also served as the statewide bighorn sheep management coordinator for a period of 4 years. In 1986 Vern and his co-authors were the first to apply the concept of metapopulation dynamics to the management and conservation of bighorn sheep, which has become the paradigm for management in North America. He has published widely in the professional literature, and currently serves as Science Advisor to the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, is a member of the Texas Bighorn Society's Advisory Board, and serves on two committees of the California Wild Sheep Foundation. Dr. Bleich chaired the Wild Sheep Foundation's Professional Resource Advisory Board (PRAB) from 2010 to 2017, and continues to serve WSF as a member of PRAB. Vern holds an appointment as Research Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada Reno. He is the recipient of numerous awards from academia, conservation organizations, and professional societies. In 1999, Vern was nominated and elected as a Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club, and he is a Life Member of the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, Wild Sheep Foundation, and California Wild Sheep Foundation. Vern and his family now reside in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he remains active in the conservation of bighorn sheep and other large mammals occupying the arid environments and northern plains of western North America, enjoys hunting and fishing in that new environment, and loves being Grandpa of the five grand-daughters with which he and his wife, Teresa, have been blessed.
In 1986 Vern and his co-authors were the first to apply the concept of metapopulation dynamics to the management and conservation of bighorn sheep, which has since become the paradigm for management in North America.  He has published widely in the professional literature, and currently serves as Science Advisor to the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, is a member of the Texas Bighorn Society's Advisory Board, Chairs the Grants-in-Aid Committee for the California Wild Sheep Foundation, is a current member and the former Chair of the Wild Sheep Foundation's Professional Resource Advisory Board, and is a Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club.
Vern holds an appointment as Research Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada Reno, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards from academia, conservation organizations, and professional societies in recognition of his contributions to wildlife science and conservation.  Vern and his family now reside in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he remains active in the conservation of large mammals occupying the arid environments of western North America, enjoys hunting and fishing in a new environment, and loves being Grandpa of the five grand-daughters with which he and his wife, Teresa, have been blessed.


Bill Jex

Bill Jex

British Columbia

TERM EXPIRES - 2026

Over the past 3+ decades, I have sought to develop my expertise and a broad understanding of our environments and our cherished natural resources. I have worked in many different operational and strategic roles, with much of my career to date being employed by the province of British Columbia; the past 5 years working as the Province’s first dedicated Wild Sheep and Mountain Goat Specialist. My foundation is based in habitat management and ecology, and I feel this compliments my passion for wildlife and specifically management of our very special mountain ungulates. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to provide strategic advice within and across jurisdictions, participate in writing scientific papers and cultivating our future biologists, developed and supported the creation of new jurisdictional regulations, policy and procedural directives; and have participated on the British Columbia Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation’s Technical Review Committees, the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance’s Science and Conservation Committee, the Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council’s working groups, and in supporting the Wild Sheep Society of BC. I am proud to also currently be a member of both the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies – Wild Sheep Initiative and co-represent British Columbia, and the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Professional Resource Advisory Board, both of which are international working and science advisory groups. Through these collaborations I remain fortunate in keeping a network of relationships with a broad spectrum of resources users, advocates, conservationists, professionals, academia and First Nations, from whom I continue to learn.

Daryl Lutz

Daryl Lutz

(WY) WYG&F, WAFWA Wild Sheep Initiative Chair | Wyoming

Ex-Officio

Daryl became the WAFWA Wild Sheep Inititave Chair (WSI) Chair in December 2022. Daryl attended the University of Wyoming and Humboldt State University. Daryl has worked for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for over three decades as a Habitat Biologist, Wildlife Biologist, and now a Wildlife Management Coordinator – and continues to serve in that capacity as he chairs the WSI. Daryl has been heavily involved in mule deer and bighorn sheep management throughout his career. Daryl led Wyoming’s Mule Deer Working Group, and represented Wyoming on WAFWA's Mule Deer Working Group for over 20 years, since its formation in 1998. Daryl has co-chaired Wyoming’s Bighorn Sheep Working Group the past several years. Daryl was raised as a hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman in Colorado and Wyoming. Daryl and his wife Kim raised their two kids the same way, and are now working on their 5 grandkids.


Larry Jacobs

Larry Jacobs

WSF Board Liaison | Oregon

Ex-Officio - TERM EXPIRES - 2024

Born and raised on a farm/ranch in North Dakota provided Larry Jacobs the opportunity to build a strong work ethics at a young age. He has always been passionate about new adventures and opportunities in life. He traveled to Oregon for summer work, to earn his way through college, and started a Custom Construction Co. the at age 20.  He still owns and operates this business forty-seven year later, building custom homes and light commercial projects. Larry also operates a farm and ranch business.

Larry has always spent time volunteering to local, county, state and regional non-profit groups so after drawing an Oregon bighorn tag in 2002 he joined OR-FNAWS for an opportunity to give back. He became a board member in 2003, served as VP in 2004 and as President in 2005,2006, 2016 and is the current Oregon President. He has initiated numerous hands on projects in Oregon- including guzzlers, spring projects, weed projects and juniper cutting to name a few.  Larry has actively participated in the Hells Canyon Initiative as the OR-FNAWS representative since 2004. He has also participated in public land management planning in OR, WA and ID since 2004. Larry takes a leading role in the chapter fundraisers each year. The Oregon Chapter presented their Jo Josephson Lifetime Achievement award to Larry in 2007. The WSF Gordon Eastman award was presented to Larry in 2010 and the WSF Outstanding Achievement award was presented to him in 2016. He is dedicated to bighorn sheep and passionate about the future of our public lands and wildlife management strategies for these lands.

Dr. Kate Huyvaert

Dr. Kate Huyvaert

Rocky Crate Chair | Washington

Ex-Officio

Kate Huyvaert joined Washington State University as the Rocky Crate/Wild Sheep Foundation Endowed Chair after 14 years on the faculty in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University. Kate got her start in field biology working on seabirds on a desert, uninhabited island in Ecuador. She thought she wanted to be a physician – and was an English lit major as an undergrad - but fell head over heels for science as a way of getting to know the natural world and this led her to complete an MSc at Wake Forest University and earn her PhD at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on population biology in seabirds. Kate’s interest and research focus on infectious disease ecology emerged from questions she tackled about genetic ‘quality’ in seabirds in her dissertation and has expanded to research projects on an assortment of wild critters – from boreal toads to spotted owls, blue-footed boobies to freshwater clams, to bighorn sheep. While Kate’s immediate research focus is on respiratory disease in wild sheep, she and her lab group apply both field and laboratory techniques to questions about pathogens and parasites at the interfaces between domestic animals, wildlife, and humans. Kate has a keen interest in applying knowledge from her work to conserve the world’s biodiversity and looks forward to bringing her perspectives and skill to the PRAB and Wild Sheep Initiative. In her spare time, Kate enjoys traveling to new places and exploring the outdoors.


WSF World Headquarters | 412 Pronghorn Trail | Bozeman, MT 59718 USA | Phone: 406.404.8750 (800-OK-FNAWS) | Email: info@wildsheepfoundation.org

Copyright © 2024 | Refund Policy | Chapter/Affiliate Login | Terms & Privacy | TAX ID - 42-1109229