The Maine Warden Service is refuting claims that its actions during a poaching investigation in northern Maine were heavy-handed and over the top.
The final outcome of the investigation can be seen on an episode of its cable reality show, “North Woods Law.”
On Wednesday, the wardens issued a lengthy rebuttal to recent allegations of misconduct made in an extensive Maine Sunday Telegram article.
The TV episode, called “Throttle Out,” depicts the end result of a major poaching investigation in the Allagash region, which included a lengthy undercover operation spread out over two years. It culminated in search warrants, arrests and seizures made at several different households.
“In my opinion, it was great piece of game warden work. We’re targeting intentional game violators, and that’s why it was so confusing when this article came out that had so many misrepresentations and inaccuracies,” Maine Warden Service Lt. Dan Scott said.
He said the Maine Sunday Telegram article, which alleges multiple infractions on the part of the warden service, including entrapment and evidence-padding, is incorrect.
Scott said the department was acting on information given to them by local residents upset over the illegal killing of wildlife, and he said the three main suspects were eager to flout the law.
“They bragged to our game warden about how they’re never going to be caught again, they continued the whole time he was there and just demonstrated the fact that they feel like the game laws don’t apply to them,” he said. “They openly talked about that and about concealing evidence so that they wouldn’t be caught.”
Scott said the undercover officer was able to keep one of the men under investigation from killing a mother moose and calf, as well as a threatened Canada lynx, but he said the officer documented more than 300 infractions of the law.
The wardens’ statement refutes numerous incidents described in the Telegram article, including one where canned vegetables and peaches were seized from a home. The wardens claim the vegetable seizures were made in error. They also said the vegetables were returned, and at no time, they said, were any peaches involved.
In the end the department served five search warrants and netted 17 arrests with more than 75 individual convictions and $38,000 dollars in fines.
All the cases went before a jury in Aroostook County, or the Maine Supreme Court.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public Broadcasting Network.