BiographyCatherine and Neil Thagard.

Ovis Consulting

Rugged icons of the west, wild sheep are potentially one of the great conservation success stories of our time. Driven nearly to extinction by human induced factors, their restoration has relied upon appropriate policies and practices being put in place and cooperatively upheld by hunters, outfitters, landowners, conservationists, non-governmental organizations, game agencies and every level of government. This makes the wild sheep the ideal symbol for Ovis Consulting, where we focus our attention and energy solely on the wildlife policy arena. Specializing in bridging the gap that often exists between sportsmen, conservationists and our elected decision-making bodies, we are experienced in advocating for hunting, wildlife and habitat at the local, state/provincial and federal level. 

Neil

A lifelong interest in wildlife and hunting led Neil Thagard moved to Boise, Idaho after college graduation where he joined the Idaho chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) and served on the chapter Board of Directors, later to become President. During his presidency, he and his team secured the funding necessary to purchase the last domestic sheep grazing allotments on Idaho’s Lost River Range, helping to promote a positive future for wild sheep recovery. 

Immediately following his chapter board obligations, he took the position as Director of Operations and Policy at the International Headquarters of WSF in Cody, Wyoming, where he primarily dealt with wild land and wildlife management issues, the Foundations trust fund, public education, and chapter relations.   From 2003 to 2010, Neil was the primary voice for the Wild Sheep Foundation, where he dedicated himself to wildlife conservation through influencing public land policy. His dedication received international recognition when Neil was awarded the Lex Ross Wild Sheep Conservation Award in British Columbia, Canada, the first non-Canadian to receive the prestigious honor.

He also took part in a monthly radio show and a number of hunting and wildlife conservation television programs at the national level, including being the executive producer for WSF’s television program Hittin’ the Outdoors with Wade Boggs. Neil has also authored a number of articles regarding hunting and conservation issues which have been featured in such publications as: Wild Sheep, Sports Afield, Bowhunter, and Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal.

More recently, Neil served several years as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's Outreach Director, where he bridged the traditional gap between science-based state and federal agencies and the policy-based legislative bodies that make decisions impacting fish, wildlife and habitats across the West.

In April of 2015 Neil accepted an appointment as the Director of the Nez Perce Tribe's Wildlife Division, a move which not only enabled him to return to Idaho, but also provided the opportunity to help insert the Tribe's unique voice and perspective into the established fish and wildlife policy conversation. In this position, Neil has strengthened his skills in working with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through formal training via the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Neil's interests outside of his work also reflect his passion for wildlife and wild places. Not only is he a volunteer with organizations that provide hunting opportunities for youth with terminal illnesses, disabled veterans and the children of fallen heroes, he is also an ultra-marathon trail runner. Neil has taken, all with archery equipment and under fair chase conditions, more than 100 big game animals including more than ½ of the North American species and over 30 record book-qualifying animals. 

Catherine

As a young person, Catherine Thagard travelled extensively, completing her high school in the Philippines and volunteering for conservation organizations in the middle east. She credits this early experience with instilling in her a love of the outdoors, a respect for diversity and a diplomatic outlook on any situation she encounters.

After graduating from Mt. Royal University's graphic design program in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), Catherine took a job as an office administrator for an outfitter in the Rocky Mountains of her home province. This led to a position with the Alberta Outfitters Association, where she had the opportunity to meet with elected provincial policy makers on issues important to both the outfitters and hunters they served. In this capacity she also became engaged with some of the many conservation issues south of the border, such as the wild/domestic sheep conflict in the Payette National Forest in Idaho and across the West.

After marrying an American and moving to Wyoming, Catherine remained deeply involved on the issues impacting hunting, angling, fish and wildlife.  She began freelancing design jobs for such organizations as the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. 

Her passion for conservation also led to speaking engagements, not only to groups who already had the same conservation ethic, but perhaps more importantly, to groups  made up primarily of non- or even anti-hunters.  She considers presenting a factual, unbiased account of the sportsmen's role in conservation to people who are unaware of the connection, and who walk away with a greater understanding of the social and economic values of hunting, to be one of her proudest achievements. This ethic is also seen in the many articles, blog pieces, op-eds and letters to the editor she has authored, both under her own name and on behalf of other individuals or organizations.

Most recently, Catherine served as the Coordinator for the Wyoming Sportsmen's Alliance (WYSA), steering that group through its formative first two years. During her tenure, she helped bring politically diverse sportsmen's and wildlife organizations to the table, secured their agreement to work together on mutual goals, and eventually developed a mission, vision and organizational charter.  Catherine organized and hosted WYSA's immensely successful Sportsmen's Advocacy Conference, and annual Sportsmen's Legislative Receptions in Cheyenne during the 2014 and 2015 sessions. However, the highlight of this work was defeating 2015's federal land transfer bill through diplomatic relationships and the ability to effectively share science based information with Wyoming's elected officials.

Sportsmen's advocacy and graphic design aren't two occupations that often go hand-in-hand, but they were exactly the right skill set Catherine needed to successfully develop Ovis Consulting with her husband, Neil.