It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Pennsylvania Game Commission Aquatic Furbearer Specialist Thomas S. Hardisky, 59. He died at home on April 28, 2018.
Hardisky was employed by the Game Commission for 28 years. He was highly respected within the furbearer research community. He served on the Northeast Furbearer Resources Technical Committee, a furbearer research group from the Northeastern states and Eastern Canadian provinces, since the early 1990s. Hardisky was a tremendous liaison between the Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Trappers Association. During his tenure at the Game Commission, he worked diligently to build partnerships, expand opportunities for Pennsylvania hunters and trappers, and ensure sustainable management of the Commonwealth's abundant furbearer resources. He was an avid trapper, hunter and angler and enjoyed sharing his wildlife expertise with other individuals and organizations. He was a kind, generous person and employee who will be missed.
In his capacity with the agency, Tom was responsible for coordinating and conducting monitoring, research, and management of aquatic furbearers with special emphasis on beaver, otter, mink, and muskrat.
Tom received his education at Penn State University and Mississippi State University. In 1981 and 1982, Tom earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Wildlife Science, respectively, from Penn State. He later earned a Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology (1986) at Mississippi State University. Tom's thesis topics were bobcat population monitoring and Mississippi trapper characteristics.
Tom began his professional career in 1986 as a black bear biologist for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission at their Wildlife Research Laboratory in Gainesville, Florida. In 1989, he worked as a beaver damage specialist with USDA, Animal Damage Control, in Paris, Tennessee. Tom became part of the Game Commission team in 1989 as the fish and wildlife database manager for the Bureau of Land Management. In 1993, he joined the Bureau of Wildlife Management as farmland wildlife section supervisor, where he headed pheasant restoration research comparing Sichuan and ring-necked pheasants. In 1995, Tom supervised the Furbearer and Farmland Wildlife Section where he oversaw research and monitoring of all furbearer and farmland wildlife species. Projects included beaver harvest management, trap testing, furbearer population monitoring, and pheasant research. In 2005 (until February 2008) Tom was the Wildlife Management Supervisor for the northeast region of the Game Commission. In this capacity he directed all wildlife management programs within the region including population monitoring of birds and mammals, habitat evaluation, wildlife health, harvest management, and public/private landowner technical assistance.
Tom was a Certified Wildlife Biologist since 1992 and member of The Wildlife Society. The PA Trappers Association named him Conservationist of the Year in 2000.
Also known as “Tommy” to his family and close friends, he enjoyed a wide variety of outdoor activities including videography, photography, trapping, hunting, fishing, gardening, and helping family and friends with outdoor projects. He also enjoyed preparing smoked chicken, wild blueberry muffins, and other experimental dishes.