The Maine Warden Service has suspended its search for a 67-year-old Canadian man who has been missing for more than a week, Cpl. John MacDonald said in a statement Tuesday evening.
MacDonald said wardens believe Renald Poulin, a Saint Come, Quebec, resident who was in the area to explore abandoned tram rail systems, may have encountered a problem in the Umbazooksus Dam area as early as Tuesday, Nov. 26, when he crossed the border.
Wardens came across his green 2002 Kia Sedona near Umbazooksus Dam during an unrelated search for two missing hunters from Millinocket, MacDonald said.
“With no clues indicating Poulin’s direction of travel and recent snows accumulating 3 to 4 inches, evidence detection has become nearly impossible,” MacDonald said.
Tuesday’s effort to locate Poulin involved 26 Maine game wardens, including K9 team and dive team members, as well as 15 volunteers with Maine Association for Search and Rescue and five Maine Forest Rangers, MacDonald said.
As of late afternoon, however, searchers had found no clues leading them to Poulin, he said.
The primary search area was Township 6 Range 13, located in Piscataquis County, and included both the western and southwestern shores of Umbazooksus Lake, Umbazooksus Stream and significant portions of the once-used tram railway system believed to be Poulin’s destination.
Poulin had interest in the tram rail systems in the Umbazooksus Lake area used decades ago by the logging industry and wardens believe he was exploring those areas when he went missing, MacDonald said.
The search for Poulin was hampered by snow and wet, damp weather, MacDonald said earlier this week. Snow fell in the search area for most of the day Monday. Approximately 3 to 4 inches of new snow accumulated and made searching a challenge. The terrain is also very rough and swampy, MacDonald said.
Because of weather conditions on Tuesday, aircraft were not used. The Maine Warden Service Dive Team dove in several high probability locations with no signs of Poulin.
“At this time, the Warden Service will evaluate future search strategies of larger wooded areas likely to have been explored by Poulin in proximity to his recovered vehicle,” MacDonald said, adding the game wardens have been talking with tram enthusiasts to collect information about the area tram system.
Searches in areas most frequented by tram enthusiasts so far have turned up no clues, MacDonald said. He said Maine Warden Service aircraft will search the area from the sky later this week, weather permitting.
Other agencies that assisted in the search effort, which spanned several days, included U.S. Border Patrol, Unity College Search and Rescue Team, Baxter State Park Rangers, Mid-Maine Search and Rescue, Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue, Pinetree Search and Rescue, the Maine Association of Search and Rescue Dogs and Down East Emergency Medical Institute.
Game wardens are asking those who may have seen Poulin’s vehicle parked at the Umbazooksus Dam between Nov. 26 and Nov. 30 to call the Public Safety Dispatch Center in Houlton at 800-924-2261.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Cpl. John MacDonald's name.