No Tasers for Maine wardens in the wild

Posted June 09, 2010, at 10:59 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:26 p.m.

     Odd things happen in the wild. Very odd things. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, a story moves on the Associated Press wire that shows you just how little you’ve actually heard.

  Today’s truly odd news story: Apparently, wildlife professionals in Alaska (and elsewhere) have been watching “Cops” a bit too often.

  Or perhaps they’ve simply figured out that today’s technology can be used to overcome a variety of challenges.

  Have an ill-tempered moose on your hands? Want to subdue the critter safely?

  Grab a Taser.

  That’s right. A Taser.

  (Go ahead. Say it. You know you want to: “Don’t tase me, dude.”)

  According to the news story, about five years ago Alaska began looking at using Tasers in limited wildlife control situations.

  “I had an epiphany while being chased by an angry moose,” Alaska wildlife technician Larry Lewis told reporter Mike Campbell.

  The cow moose wouldn’t leave her two calves, which had fallen into a basement foundation. A state trooper and Lewis couldn’t scare the moose away. They didn’t want to shoot it. And when they approached the hole, the moose charged.

  According to the wire story, the state trooper used his Taser. The moose fell, then retreated into the woods. The calves were rescued. The rescuers escaped. Everybody was happy.

  And Lewis got to thinking.

  Now, five years later, Alaska has done some advanced Taser training with its wildlife managers, and Lewis has spoken with officials from other states and foreign countries.

  In the story, Lewis said animals that have been Tasered tend to flee. In an Alaska study on captive moose, researchers said the animals recover from a Taser episode in 30 minutes, compared to 24 to 48 hours after being drugged.

  I was intrigued.

  As a closet “Cops” watcher, I might also have been chuckling a bit.

  But mostly, I was intrigued. Honest.

  So I called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to ask a couple of obvious questions.

  Are our wardens packing Tasers? And are they going to start using them on our often- erratic moose?

  Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the DIF&W, did some checking and reported that Maine’s game wardens are not provided Tasers. The expense of the equipment was a key concern, she said.

  Top-ranking wardens have heard about the use of Tasers on large animals, she said, but there is no present plan to begin the practice by the wardens or by the department’s wildlife division, she added.

  Of course, as a writer looking for a spicy, offbeat story, I was more than a little disappointed to learn that.

  Upon further soul-searching, however, I’ve come to realize that I might be the one who’s been watching too many late-night episodes of “Cops.”

Seen any stripers?

  The past couple of years have been a bit tough on local striper bass anglers, as the fishing has been slow … or really slow … or worse.

  Just a few years ago, it was common to find dozens of anglers along the Penobscot River a couple hours on each side of high tide, fishing from shore. Just as many fishermen regularly headed up and down the river in boats, trolling or casting for stripers.

  Last year, things got so bad that it was hard to find a striper angler on the river during June and early July. A friend of mine got so frustrated, he threatened to sell his boat, which he bought for the sole purpose of striper fishing.

  Reports have started trickling in that this year’s run of stripers might be a bit better. Anglers in southern Maine are seeing a few fish. Unconfirmed reports closer to home indicate the run may be starting.

  So here’s the question of the day: What have you heard?

  If you’ve seen stripers in your favorite spots (or if you’ve traveled southward and had a bit of luck), I’d like to hear about it.

  I don’t have to know exactly where you’re seeing stripers. Just a town or an area will suffice.

  But I know many anglers would appreciate hearing some first-hand reports before they decide to head to tidal water.

  I’ll be talking to an expert or two in the coming days, and hope to be able to provide an update in Saturday’s BDN.

  And if you choose to participate and help your fellow readers out, I’d certainly appreciate it.

Paddlers heading to Freeport

  Looking for a nice day trip in the days ahead? If you’ve got an interest in kayaking, you may want to consider heading to L.L. Bean for the store’s 29th annual PaddleSports Weekend.

  The event will run from Friday through Sunday. Attendees can take part in waterfront activities like a free cookout, free boat testing and the chance to talk with plenty of industry vendors.

  In addition, the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools will offer 90-minute kayak tours of Casco Bay for just $29. Call 888-552-3261 to reserve a spot in a tour, or sign up at the company’s flagship store.
jholyoke@bangordailynews.com
990-8214

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