Commission announces leadership changes

What’s the old saying “April rains bring May flowers?”

When it comes to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, April changes bring new leadership. The last week of April saw several resignations and retirements at both the Harrisburg and regional level; meaning May started with many high-level positions being filled by new personnel.

The most significant change occurred at the top, with the resignation of Executive Director Bryan Burhans. Burhans, who had led the agency for seven years, presented his resignation to the commissioners on April 22 and it was accepted immediately.

Commissioner Scott Foradora explained that although Burhans “cares immeasurably about Pennsylvania’s wildlife and habitats, especially hunters,” it was time for a change. Foradora further explained that “circumstances beyond job performance” were the basis for the Board of Commissioners questioning Burhan’s future with the agency.

These circumstances center around a business relationship between Burhan and several Game Commission employees involving health and wellness consulting Burhan performs as secondary employment. Although no ethics violations are suggested, it is highly unusual for a supervisor to have such a relationship with subordinates.

Burhan was immediately replaced by Stephen Smith, who was appointed deputy executive director earlier in the month after serving as the agency’s Bureau of Information and Education director. Lauren Ferreri, who previously served as biological & visitor manager at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, was appointed Smith’s replacement in the Bureau of Information & Education.

There are three new regional directors as well, following several recent retirements.

Mike Beahm will assume duties as the Northeast regional director following the retirement of Dan Figured. Beahm had previously served as regional director in the Southcentral Region. Beahm is very familiar with the Northeast Region, having spent much of his career there before transferring to the Southeast in 2021.

The Northeast Region serves Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Cullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

Seth Mesoras, who previously served as the information and education supervisor in the Southwest Region, was promoted to Southcentral regional manager with a start date of April 13. Also promoted effective April 13 was former bear biologist Mark Ternent, who will assume the duties of regional manager in the Northcentral following the retirement of Dave Carlini.

The Southcentral Region serves Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry and Snyder counties.

The Northcentral Region serves Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga and Union counties.

Each of the new regional managers brings years of experience and diverse background to their new positions.

Beahm holds degrees from both Paul Smith’s College (Paul Smiths, New York) and Slippery Rock University. He is a 23rd Wildlife Conservation Officer Class member and was assigned to Lehigh County in 1996. In 2004, he was promoted to federal aid supervisor (Southeast Region); in 2008, he transferred to land management group supervisor (Northeast Region) and was promoted to land management supervisor in 2015. In 2014, he received the Shikar-Safari Award for outstanding service.

Ternant, originally a Maryland native, holds degrees from Frostburg State University and a graduate school in wildlife sciences at the University of Minnesota. Before coming to the Pennsylvania Game Commission as a bear biologist, he worked at the Missouri Department of Conservation conducting turkey research and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department performing black bear and grizzly bear research.

Mesoras graduated from Juniata College with a degree in environmental science before joining the commission as a 27th Wildlife Conservation Officer Class member. Following his training, he was assigned to Westmoreland County, later transferred to Cambria County, and later served as Land Management Group Supervisor before his promotion to Information and Education Supervisor in the Southwest Region. During his time with the Commission, Mesoras was recognized as the 2016 Turkey Federation Officer of the Year and twice with the agency Life Saving Award.


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