Tom Keller is a wildlife biologist and the Wild Pheasant Recovery Area and Bobwhite Quail Focus Area coordinator within the Pennsylvania Game Commission's game bird section. Working closely with the Farmland/Pheasant Quail Project Leader, he coordinates research and monitoring projects supporting both the ring-necked pheasant and northern bobwhite quail management plans. This involves leading an important team of bio-aides and volunteers conducting field surveys within Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas and Bobwhite Quail Focus Areas throughout the state. He also provides training and presentations to regions and crucial partners of the program.
Previous to this position, Tom worked in the Southwest Region as a regional wildlife biologist from 2012 - 2015. He was primarily a field biologist, conducting a variety of wildlife and habitat surveys throughout the year. Tom assisted with the monitoring of a variety of wildlife via surveys and mark-and-recapture programs, as well as participating in regional wildlife disease surveillance. He conducted breeding bird surveys including woodcock, grouse, waterfowl, passerines, herons, shore birds, and several raptor species. He was responsible for the banding of several bird species throughout the year including peregrine falcons, Canada geese, mourning doves, ducks, and turkeys. Additionally, Tom participated in bat surveys (summer roost and winter hibernacula), snowshoe hare surveys, deer aging and CWD sampling, bear check stations, and implemented other wildlife disease monitoring protocols as needed. Tom utilized GIS to determine specific habitat presence, conduct impact assessments, and recommend avoidance measures. Tom also assisted foresters and land managers in conducting prescribed burns on game lands to improve wildlife habitat, and conduct field habitat surveys throughout the region. Tom determined risk levels to wildlife species from energy development (wind, gas, and oil) in the western region of the state. This consisted of working closely with developers and consultants to determine and minimize risk to wildlife species and habitats.
Before joining the Game Commission, Tom worked as a wildlife specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Program in Ohio from 2007 – 2012. His work primarily focused on rabies prevention and elimination of the disease from Ohio. Much of the work involved trapping raccoons and skunks and taking biological samples such as blood, DNA, and physical measurements before vaccinating and releasing healthy animals. A portion of this work focused on aerial dispersal of the rabies vaccine. Tom also worked as a sharpshooter assisting in wildlife damage management to protect human health and safety. Working for Wildlife Services included biological lab work testing samples for rabies, working closely with private, state, and other government agencies, responding to wildlife disease emergencies, and acting as a project leader on large trap, vaccinate, and release efforts in Northeast Ohio.
Other wildlife positions Tom has held include working as a Game Commission bio aide for the waterfowl section capturing and banding ducks, Canada geese, and mourning doves as well as conducting turkey and grouse surveys (2006). He also worked as an ornithology crew leader for The Pennsylvania State University conducting research in the Moshannon State Forest to determine the effects of acid rain deposition on ground nesting avian species from 2003 – 2006. Tom received a bachelor's degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from The Pennsylvania State University. He is currently wrapping up his Masters of Science from Green Mountain College, VT where he looked at "Investigating the Timing of Peak Display and Nest Initiation of American Woodcock in Southwestern Pennsylvania" and using Forward Looking Infrared Radar as a tool to locate nesting woodcock.
Tom grew up hunting, trapping, and fishing with his father in the Cumberland Valley just outside of Carlisle, PA and now lives on a small farm only a few miles away from there with his wife and daughter. He enjoys fly-fishing in the spring, riding motorcycle in the summer, hunting woodcock in the fall, chasing grouse in the winter, and picking the banjo whenever time allows.