"The woods. The state. Everything. More and more people keep coming up here, up to Maine, and they don't understand what's special about this place... They have these distorted ideas about nature... and I didn't want to live that way. I thought that if I joined the Warden Service maybe I wouldn't have to, and maybe I could help a few people see things differently."
Mike Bowditch's profession as a Maine game warden figures prominently in The Poacher's Son. Other than conjuring up images of khakis, boots, and badges, the job of game warden is a relatively obscure and likely misunderstood one. Essentially, game wardens are wilderness police officers, and enforcing the law in an outdoor environment requires great physical endurance and intelligence, not to mention a number of specialist skills, so the warden service coordinates a number of speciality teams (aviation, dive team, canine and so forth).
The mission statement of the Maine Warden Service is to "serve and protect the public while conserving Maine's fish, wildlife, and other natural resources." Standing behind this pledge are the 124 uniformed members of the Service who have their hands full day in day out educating the public, finding lost people, investigating accidents and, of course, policing those who choose not to follow the laws of the land. Part of a warden's lengthy job description is dealing with those who illegally fish and hunt the land. "Poachers are nothing less than thieves," claims Maine's Operation Game Thief site which works with the Wildlife Warden Service. Actions such as illegally killing wildlife, introducing non-native fish species, abusing private property and fishing over limits jeopardize the delicate balance of fish and wildlife resources. For more on real life poaching scenarios, link to Operation Game Thief's case files.
About the Maine North Woods
This article was originally published in May 2010, and has been updated for the
April 2011 paperback release.
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