ABOUT JOHN EVELAND
Of the three big game mammals in Pennsylvania (white-tailed deer, black bear, and elk), John Eveland conducted the first statewide research, wrote the original state management plans, and is directly responsible for the recovery and success of two of these species -- black bears and elk. He is by profession a forester, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. His scientific experience includes studies for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and for university, state agencies, industry, and private organizations throughout North America. John Eveland is one of the most experienced wildlife ecologists in Pennsylvania, and is a national specialist in the ecology of North America for having conducted scientific research on wildlife, forest ecology, and natural systems within over 30 states and provinces of Canada -- from the northern hardwood forests of Pennsylvania and rocky coasts of New England to the southern pine forests and sandy shores of the Carolinas and Louisiana; from the mixed oak forests of mid-America to the southwest deserts and canyonlands of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico; and from the Rocky Mountain states of Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana to the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska.
As a University Research Scientist
Black Bear Research. As a biologist at The Pennsylvania State University, John conducted the first statewide scientific bear research program ever in Pennsylvania. The study included live-trapping, tagging, and radio-telemetry tracking of bears in order to scientifically determine the status of the statewide bear population, and to answer critical ecological questions. He determined that there were less than 2,000 black bears in the entire state, and that the population was declining. As a result, John wrote the first statewide bear management plan for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which was immediately implemented in 1970 by the closing of the state bear hunting season in two separate years, subsequent reductions in the length of the season from one week (with interim one-day and, then, two-day seasons) to a maximum three-day season, the issuance of bear licenses for hunters, the classification of state bear management zones, and the statewide system of bear check stations during hunting seasons. To accurately age bears, he developed the Pennsylvania microscopic method of annular (tooth-ring) analysis using premolar teeth from living bears. Dr. Gary Alt (a later black bear biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission) said of John in a published Focus feature article of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Alt became interested in bears when he was in high school and Eveland came to the
area for field studies. “He was the bear man,” Alt said of Eveland. “He was a legend,
and he was bigger than life as far as I was concerned.”
Because of John’s first research and statewide bear management plan (which remains virtually in effect to this day), Pennsylvania’s bear population has experienced a remarkable recovery, and today is estimated at about 17,000 bears -- and increasing.
Elk Research. Because of his success with bear research, John was offered the opportunity to conduct the first scientific investigation of Pennsylvania’s elk herd as a member of the Penn State faculty. Elk had been native to the state until 1867, when the last eastern elk was killed. Only 46 years later in 1913, elk were reintroduced into the state. No research had been conducted from this period until John’s first research in the early 1970’s, which focused on population dynamics, range and movements, and basic ecology of the herd. Although the official State estimate of the herd's size was about 1,000 elk, after six months John had determined there to be a total range size of 200 square miles, a primary range size of 90 square miles (where about 90% of the herd resided for about 90% of the time), and a total herd size of only 63 elk. Two years later he discovered the nationally significant brain worm disease that had cut the herd by 70%, from 115 elk to only 35 animals within a 10-week period -- explaining why the elk population had not increased nor prospered for three-quarters of a century. John created a multidisciplinary team of parasitologists, immunologists, and veterinarians at Penn State to fully understand the dynamics of the brain worm disease and to develop a preventative serum and method of inoculation. He wrote the first state elk management plan for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, with habitat development, brain worm mitigation, and herd maintenance techniques that included a statewide hunting lottery when the herd eclipsed 400 animals in size. Today the population is about 700 animals -- and increasing.