The report by the Press Herald on the Maine Warden Service’s undercover sting operation in Allagash (“North Woods Lawless,” May 8) contained plenty to be disturbed about, but it was not just about how the wardens conducted this operation.

Whether the undercover operation was conducted in compliance with state law and policy or was influenced by the accompaning TV cameras, I will leave to the Legislature’s Inland Fish and Wildlife Committee to determine. As important, the Legislature should also investigate whether inland fisheries management violated the Maine Right to Know Law.

Equally disturbing was the total lack of regard for Maine law by the investigation’s subjects. Illegal drug use, drinking and driving, drinking and hunting, driving with a loaded gun in addition to night hunting are not only illegal but dangerous behavior. The excuse given by one of the convicted individuals that he would have not been night hunting if not encouraged to do so by the uncover warden reminds me of the 1970s comedy routine by Flip Wilson — “the devil made me do it.”

As the Legislature starts its hearings, let’s remember that fish and game violations are commonplace, including here in central Maine, so let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Warden Service investigations in the last five years alone have resulted in convictions of 24 people for deer poaching in Leeds, Turner, Auburn, Chesterville, Livermore, Mount Vernon and Somerville. Most were part of poaching gangs.

Given the difficulty of collecting adequate evidence to obtain a criminal conviction, the Warden Service needs the authority to conduct undercover operations for many of the same reasons that other law enforcement agencies do. The Warden Service provides a service that is important to public safety, the health of Maine’s fish and wildlife populations, Maine sportsmen, and the sporting/eco-tourism sector of Maine’s economy.

George Seel

Belgrade

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.