Two Longtime Biologists Cash In


Biologist Dick Hall early in his career helps tag a turkey for a study that ultimately led to wild turkeys in all 55-West Virginia counties

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources recently lost two more mountains of intellectual capital.   Longtime biologist Jim Evans and Dick Hall retired from the agency after service that dates back three decades. 

Hall spent just over 41-years with the agency.  Evans was a 38-year veteran of the department.  

"When I started, we didn’t have many deer and turkeys were restricted to the mountains and eastern panhandle.  Black bear we only had about 500 animals in the state and now there’s probably ten-thousand in the state," said Evans.  "The era of reestablishing big-game in the state is over and now we’re trying to manage those things."

Evans was one of the principals involved in that reestablishment, particularly with the wild turkey.  He was the District Game Biologist in Fairmont during the now famous "trap and transfer" project that moved turkeys into all 55-West Virginia counties.

Hall echoed that sentiment.  He too has overseen a sea change in the numbers of game that hunters in West Virginia can enjoy.    Hall says southern West Virginia is where the biggest changes have happened in the four-decades he’s been on staff.

"A lot of the attitude has changed, the attitude of the people especially in the southern and southwestern part of the state," said Hall. "Down there we just couldn’t grow anything.  Over the years that attitude has gone from ‘Kill everything you see.’ to ‘Love everything you see.’   Now they’ve got some excellent hunting down there for deer, bear, and turkey."

Hall says when he came to work in July 1967 the state’s annual deer harvest was 10,000 deer.  That figure now annually nears 200-thousand animals.    Turkeys were virtually non-existent and bears were still considered a predator.    He and Evans leave the agency with great pride in the work they were able to help foster over the years.    The task now falls to a new generation of biologist who will have their hands full maintaining that game population and dealing with a new set of challenges.

"Access is probably one of the biggest problems we face in the future," said Hall. "As you see development and housing developments and urban sprawl, we’ve gone from a real rural area to a semi-rural area.    It’s going to be the challenge for the new and younger biologists to determine how they’re going to deal with the human/wildlife interaction."

Hall and Evans each made lasting contributions to West Virginia Sportsmen and will be forever linked to the heritage of hunting in the Mountain State.

"I enjoyed my career and I wouldn’t do anything different if I had to do it again," said Evans.


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