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HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management has a new director.

David J. Gustafson, who has worked for the agency since 2003, in his new position is responsible for overseeing and directing wildlife habitat management practices on the Game Commission’s more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands and work on private lands enrolled in the Hunter Access Program. He’ll oversee gas, oil, coal and timber operations on game lands and the Howard Nursery, which grows tree and shrub seedlings for planting on game lands and Hunter Access properties. Gustafson succeeds Peter Sussenbach, who took over as the Game Commission Southeast Region Office Director.

Gustafson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Forest Science from Penn State in 2000. He began his career as a forester with Weaber Inc. in Lebanon in 2001, was hired as a forester by the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, then in 2003, became a forester with the Game Commission in the Northwest Region.

In 2005, Gustafson was promoted to forest program specialist and helped start the agency’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Section. In 2007, he was promoted to Chief Forester of the Game Commission until his current promotion to bureau director.

Gustafson enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1997. In 2006, he was appointed to the rank of Second Lieutenant by Direct Commission. He served as First Lieutenant and Company Executive Officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq from September 2008 until October 2009 and was decorated with numerous military honors.

“I’m honored and excited to work with the great team of staff in the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management, particularly overseeing the work done on our superb game lands system,” Gustafson said. “The landscape management approach with prescribed fire and forest management is making our game lands into premier wildlife habitat.”

Gustafson said he also wants to improve habitat on private lands in the Commonwealth.

“In the future, I hope to strengthen our relationships with private landowners to achieve even greater habitat impacts for wildlife in Pennsylvania,” he said. “Healthy habitat is the key to healthy wildlife, and with more than 80% of our land in Pennsylvania in private ownership, working with landowners will be key to our future success,” he added.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said Gustafson brings an enthusiastic attitude and great leadership skills to the position.

“Creating and improving wildlife habitat plays a key role in the agency’s mission, and Dave, with his extensive experience in forestry, and his leadership ability obtained while serving his country in the military, will serve him and the agency well in his new position,” Burhans said.

Gustafson is originally from Port Allegany in McKean County. He and his wife, Christine, currently reside in Loysville, Perry County, with daughters Rebekah and Caroline, and lab Ruby.

MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541

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