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Career & Volunteer Opportunities

State Game Warden Careers

State Game Warden recruitment video

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has a duty to manage the commonwealth's wild birds and mammals for current and future generations and is looking for men and women willing to make a career-long commitment to this mission. If you are interested in a unique law enforcement career, take time to review the information below and consider if this demanding, but fulfilling lifestyle is for you.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission will begin recruiting the 33rd class of Wildlife Conservation Officer Cadets at its Ross Leffler School of Conservation in Harrisburg.

The civil service exam will be open to schedule testing January 27 – February 25, with a test by date of March 7.  

The agency is seeking up to 35 qualified candidates who have a genuine interest in becoming a Pennsylvania Game Warden.

Applications will only be accepted online.

To be eligible to test you must meet one of the following; have completed 60 college credits, have two years and a minimum of 400 service hours as a commissioned Deputy Game Warden for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have four years of active duty military service with honorable discharge, have two years of service as a conservation law enforcement officer with a wildlife agency

After selections are made, the 33rd class will report for training in March of 2021 and graduate in 2022.


Employment Opportunities

Commonwealth of PA Internal Job Opportunities page lists openings that are ONLY for current and former Commonwealth employees. Some positions are also available for current and former local government employees who have held civil service status.

If you do not have this experience, please visit the Commonwealth of PA Job Opportunities page for a complete listing of employment opportunities available for ALL job seekers.


Additional Opportunities 

Deputy Game Warden
Hunter Education Instructor 


Tales from the 2020 Summer Interns at Middle Creek

June 29 - Week Two Adventures with Goose Banding and Trail cams! What’s all the honking about?
by Jordan Sanford

Hey y’all! My name is Jordan Sanford and I have recently graduated from Mansfield University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. I heard about this internship opportunity through one of my advisors at school and I had to jump on it! Once I received the good news that I got the position I packed up my car and moved four hours from home to start up my life down here in Pennsylvania. I had such a blast our first week with the Game Commission, learning and experiencing tons of cool things in the field with Mikayla. This week we had the opportunity to help out John Morgan, our regional wildlife management supervisor here in the Southeast Region, with a goose roundup, work with Lauren Ferreri and fellow land management intern Alysha Ulrich to set up dove traps, and work on our own independent trail camera study. Keep reading for all the juicy details!

Goose Roundup
On Wednesday, June 24th, Mikayla and I joined several of our coworkers at Middle Creek for a goose roundup. What’s a goose roundup you ask? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like! We all converged in the field next to the lake at Middle Creek. Three of us were in kayaks out on the lake and pushed the geese onto the land where the rest of us were waiting with netted panels. We slowly formed a perimeter around the geese, and walked inwards with arms outstretched. Eventually, the circle was small enough for the panels to be connected with ties and the geese were successfully enclosed. From there, two biologists, Dan Mummert and Ken Duren entered the “Goose Arena” and began searching for goslings.

The goslings were separated into a smaller pen adjacent to the larger enclosure. Lauren and Steve Ferreri sexed and banded the young geese and released them back towards the water. Meanwhile, Dan and Ken were on the hunt for already banded geese. These geese are called “recaps” because they were previously captured and banded at a different time, so we did not need to band them again. Once all the goslings and recaps were recorded and released, several of the biologists hopped in the pen and began sexing and banding the geese. Geese take a size 8 band.

It is important to sex the geese because males get a different band than females. To sex a goose, one must first get the goose onto its back. Then, you slowly brush against the grain of feathers near its rear end, until the circular vent is exposed. If a worm-like project is exposed, the goose is male. If two small bumps appear, the goose is a female. After the geese were sexed and banded, they were released back towards the water.

This is where we come in. In addition to filming the goose roundup for other media opportunities, Mikayla, the other interns, and I were in charge of making sure the released geese headed back towards the water’s edge. A few geese were disoriented and started heading towards the road or up the hill into the meadow, and we would circle around in front of them and direct them back the right way. At the end of the day, there were 93 recaps and 261 newly banded birds.

Dove Traps
Later in the week, Mikayla and I teamed up with Lauren and Alysha at Middle Creek to learn about doves. We found out that there was a dove hunting season here in Pennsylvania which runs from Sept. 1 through Nov. 27, and then Dec.18 through Jan. 2. We also found out that the Game Commission manages for dove fields statewide. These are fields specifically planted with attractive foods like sunflowers and millet, as well as managed for other habitat components like water and grit, to attract doves. We are trapping and banding the doves to track mortality rates, and compare mortality via hunting and migration.

Alysha, Mikayla and I worked with Lauren at the dove fields by laying the traps out upside down, so the doves would get used to them being there, and putting out safflower seed to attract them.

Mikayla used a tool to rake and level the disk strip. I put out piles of safflower for the doves. Alysha tagged the traps with orange flags so when our crew goes out to mow or perform general maintenance on the fields, they don’t run over the traps, potentially harming doves. We had a great time with Lauren and Alysha learning all about doves. 

Trail Cameras
One of our first assignments as interns was a trail camera research study. Our mentor, Dan, outlined the basics of the study, but left a majority of the details and planning up to us. The study is based on waterfowl nest predation at Middle Creek. We know there’s a surplus of nest predators, but following a trapping survey, the amount of predators caught and the amount of predation we were seeing did not add up. So Mikayla and I are in charge of putting up several trail cameras throughout the game lands surrounding Middle Creek to try and see where the predators are most prevalent, and what types of predators we have the most of. We worked closely with Tyler Hudock, a Game Lands Maintenance Supervisor at Middle Creek, to find the best areas to observe. He informed us of one area where there may be a coyote den, and another area where there may be river otters. We were sure to place a camera near a log crossover, a natural walkway animals may use to travel. Tyler was super helpful with setting up the cameras, placing the lures, and just giving us some general advice and tips. We have placed six cameras so far, and are very excited to check back and see what kind of footage we get. Thanks for reading, and tune in next week to see what kind of shenanigans we may get ourselves into! Once again, shoot either of us an email if you have any questions about our experiences at the Game Commission! mtraini@pa.gov; jorsanford@pa.gov


June 22 - Welcome! Week One Adventures; Kestrel and Owl Banding; Mikayla Traini 

Hello from the Pennsylvania Game Commission! My name is Mikayla Traini and I am an Environmental Science student at Drexel University, working as an Environmental Education Intern this summer in the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Southeast Region. Jordan Sanford is the other intern, a recent graduate of Mansfield University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. Our advisor and mentor is Mr. Daniel Lynch, a Wildlife Education Specialist in the Southeast Region. Though this summer is going slightly different than planned (thaaaanks Coronavirus), we are excited to be starting our internship and can't wait to have a wide variety of experiences in the field.  

In our first week as Environmental Education Interns, we did what most interns do. We set up our desk space, struggled through the extensive on-boarding process, met people around the office, banded baby kestrels and owls...wait, most interns don't do that? Our job is a bit more interesting than your average internship. I hope you stick around to see our adventures throughout the rest of the summer!

Kestrel Banding: Under the supervision of Lauren Ferreri, Biological/Visitor Manager at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, we observed and learned how to band kestrel and owl chicks. On Wednesday, we spent the day at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area checking American kestrel boxes for chicks younger than 25 days old. Once they are about 30 days old, they are fully grown and ready to leave the nest. In general, they are banded between 14 and 25 days old to ensure their legs are large enough, but they are not able to fly away.  

As a reminder, only certified banders who hold banding permits are allowed to band birds. We were accompanied and instructed by Lauren Ferreri, a certified bander, while assisting in banding these birds. Do not try this at home if you are not a certified bander. For purely educational purposes, I will briefly discuss the banding process.

Our first step in banding these chicks was to remove them from the nest. This was no easy task, considering the kestrel boxes sit atop a post about 10 feet high! Carefully ascending the ladder, one by one the chicks are lifted from the box and into a fabric bag to be transported to the truck bed for banding.

Once we returned to the truck, it was time to start the banding process. There is a wide variety of bands, of all different sizes, for various bird species. All bands are sized to ensure the fit around the bird's leg is comfortable, without inhibiting growth or flight. For example, a bald eagle will take a larger size band (size 10) than an American robin would (size 1A). American kestrels require a size 3A band to properly fit around their leg. For each size band, a special type of pliers is used to band the bird. It has the ability to open the band to the proper width to be fit over the bird's leg. The pliers close the band around the bird's leg just enough to secure the band, to avoid injuring the bird.  

You may be asking yourself, why is it important to band birds in the first place? From a conservation and management standpoint, it is important to band birds to observe their dispersal patterns, or how far they will go from where they were born, and migratory habits. On each band, there is a band number unique to that individual bird as well as the website of US Geological Survey Bird Banding Lab in Maryland. If, for example, a bird with a band is found dead on the side of a road and someone finds it, they can contact the Bird Banding Lab and provide them with the band number and the location where the bird was found. This information can then be compared to previously collected information on that bird species, adding to the database. Information like this is of HUGE importance to the research community!

After the band has been placed on the bird, the bird is weighed and compared to a photo book to determine its approximate age. We estimated that the chicks banded at Middle Creek were about 17 days old. Like most other raptors, adult male kestrels are smaller than female kestrels. Adult male kestrels average about 110 grams while female kestrels average closer to 130 grams. This is equal to about 3/10ths of a pound.

You can differentiate the female and male kestrels by the color of their feathers. This is called sexual dimorphism, or distinct differences in males and females based on size or appearance. In the case of the kestrel, females (below on left) generally are all brown with dark brown barring on their feathers while males (below on right) have more of a bluish-grey tint to them. Likewise, female kestrels have brown tail feathers with dark brown barring, whereas males have plain brown tail feathers with a black band. Once the kestrel chicks were banded, we ascended back up the ladder and carefully placed them back in their nest, all before the mother got back!

Barn Owl Banding: In addition to banding kestrel chicks, we also had the opportunity to observe the banding of young barn owls. Check out the Wildlife on Wifi segment "Barn Owl and America Kestrel Research From the Field" at www.pgc.pa.gov if you are interested in seeing our adventure for yourself! The barn owl box was located at a privately owned farm in rural Lancaster County.

The process of banding these chicks was almost identical to banding the kestrels. The main difference is the size and type of band used. While the kestrel used a size 3 band, the barn owl uses a size 6 or 7A band because of the larger diameter of their leg. It is also best for these birds to have lock-on bands to prevent them from ripping the band off with their beak. Kestrels do not exhibit the behavior of removing the band, so a simple butt-end band without locking mechanisms suffices.

Another difference in our process for barn owls was the way their ages are estimated. Instead of using a picture guide, their wing feathers are measured in order to age them based on known values from previous research. According to our measurements, this young barn owl is estimated to be about 25 days old. Barn owls take approximately 10 weeks to fully develop before fledging the nest, and these little guys and gals are about halfway there.

Thank you so much for reading our first ever Pennsylvania Game Commission Environmental Education Intern blog! I hope you enjoyed learning about the experiences we had this week in the field. Keep an eye out for our next blog and find out what all the HONKING is about in "The Wild Goose Chase: Week Two Adventures with Canada Goose Banding". If you have any questions regarding anything discussed in this blog, shoot us an email at our email addresses listed below. Thanks! mtraini@pa.gov; jorsanford@pa.gov