Mary Jo Casalena
Mary Jo Casalena has nourished her interest in game birds during her tenure with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. She is the state wild turkey biologist, but her career within the PGC began in 1993 as a farmland wildlife biologist, within the Bureau of Wildlife Management, working on the pheasant restoration program. In 1995 she accepted the position of waterfowl biologist for northeastern PA. “I enjoyed the challenge of studying and managing the large diversity of migratory game bird species and felt quite at home in the wetlands and swamps of the Poconos”, Casalena admitted. Casalena is no stranger to wetlands. Her Master of Science Degree in Wildlife Management from Penn State University included a concentration in Wetland Science.
Casalena earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Massachusetts in 1985. She authored a book chapter in “Ecology of Wetlands and Associated Systems” on the effective use of birds as indicators of biological health. In 1998 she accepted the appointment of directing the turkey management program. “This transition seemed to be a natural change, giving me the opportunity to work with North America’s largest game bird.” Being Casalena’s favorite species to hunt was an added bonus.
Prior to joining the PGC, Casalena worked for the Arizona Game and Fish Department as Habitat Program Manager in northwestern AZ, as well as for the Pennsylvania State University as Research Technologist in the Wetlands Science Program.
Casalena’s interest in birds began with bird watching at a young age. “Having the opportunity to incorporate my hobbies into my career is a great achievement.” Casalena said. She has always felt most comfortable in the outdoors with a pair of binoculars or scouting her favorite hunting location.
Her responsibilities as state wild turkey biologist include wild turkey research, harvest, population, and habitat management, and technical committee advisor to the National Wild Turkey Federation. “Working closely with this nonprofit organization and the enthusiastic volunteers is very rewarding.” Other interests include mountain biking, hunting, farming and camping. Casalena is a certified wildlife biologist, and a member of The Wildlife Society, the Northeast Wild Turkey Technical Committee, and The National Wild Turkey Federation. She has published over a dozen scientific articles on wildlife and wetlands and dozens of magazine articles on these topics as well. She regularly provides programs on turkeys, turkey management and research, waterfowl, wetlands, and other wildlife management topics to groups and the public.