Tom Keller currently serves as the bobwhite quail & wild ring-necked pheasant biologist within the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s (PGC) game bird section. He leads and coordinates research and monitoring projects supporting both the PA ring-necked pheasant and northern bobwhite quail management plans. This involves leading an important team of bio-aides and volunteers conducting field surveys within recovery areas throughout the state. He also provides training and presentations to regions and crucial partners of the program. His professional passion is for farmland wildlife recovery and working to restore both game and non-game farmland habitat specialists back to the agricultural landscape of the Commonwealth.
Previous to this position Tom worked in the Southwest Region as a regional wildlife biologist from 2012 - 2015. He acted as 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 PGC bat surveys (summer roost and winter hibernacula), snowshoe hare surveys, deer aging and CWD sampling, regional 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 regions 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 PGC, Tom worked as a wildlife specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (WS) Program in Ohio from 2007 – 2012. His work primarily focused on wildlife disease management and human/wildlife conflict mitigation.
Other wildlife positions Tom has held include working as a Bio Aide for the PGC waterfowl section (2006). He also worked as an ornithology crew leader for The Pennsylvania State University conducting research in the Moshannon State Forest from 2003 – 2006. Tom received a Bachelors degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from The Pennsylvania State University and a 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, making hay in the summer, hunting woodcock & grouse in the fall, setting traps in the winter, and picking the banjo whenever time allows.