BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — Baxter State Park rangers usually help find lost people, but they’re not above helping locate lost hunting dogs, even when there are five of them, park Director Jensen Bissell said Tuesday.
Guided partly by telephone calls from their owner, the rangers helped return five lost bear-hunting dogs to their master Tuesday after they got separated from him during a hunt near park land, Bissell said.
“Every year at this time we have a bear hunter or two whose dogs go” astray, Bissell said. “We assist those folks as much as we can.”
In this particular case, it was probably a park record to have five dogs lost, but bear hunting does encourage free-roaming, Bissell said.
“Once the dogs are loose, they are loose. If the bear gets off the scent or the dog loses the scent, they can be miles away in no time at all,” Bissell said.
Often the lost dogs fall in with hikers or park personnel as they search for their owners or for food. Hunting is allowed on about 25 percent of park land, according to the park rules listed at baxterstateparkauthority.com. Dogs get returned to their owners once they are turned in to the park authorities.
Bears and bear hunters have had an active year. Sightings of bears have climbed dramatically. Between Jan. 1 and July 3, the Maine Warden Service received 542 bear-related complaints, compared with 292 in the same period of 2010 and 252 in 2011, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife officials have said. Bear sightings have been reported in many places, including Presque Isle and many towns in New Hampshire.
The owner of the five dogs — whose name was not available — had radio transceivers on their collars and was able to track the canines with them, Bissell said. The owner telephoned the dogs’ approximate location to the rangers. The last lost dog was located near Roaring Brook early Tuesday afternoon, Bissell said.
The search itself wasn’t much trouble, Bissell said.
“The only impact it has, typically,” Bissell said, “is that somebody gives up their lunch.”