AUGUSTA  — The second contest in the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Keeper of the Maine Outdoors Experience series will give the winner a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, according to a news release from MDIFW.

During the after-hours tour of the park with MDIFW staff and park gamekeepers, the experience winner and a friend will have behind-the -scenes access to see black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, Canada lynx, cougars and more, and learn how they are cared for and fed. Bring a camera, because every photo opportunity will be from the front row.

MDIFW began the Keeper of the Maine Outdoors Experience series earlier this year to give the public the opportunity for a day-in-the-life experience with a biologist or game warden to learn how they protect Maine’s fish and wildlife and serve in the Maine outdoors. The first Experience contest had more than 4,000 entrants, according to the release.

According to the release, the Maine Wildlife Park is home to more than 30 species of animals that were injured, orphaned, or human dependent because of being raised in captivity. The park serves as a permanent home for animals that cannot survive in the wild, while providing visitors with wildlife management and conservation learning opportunities through exhibits, displays, and programs.

Other Keeper of the Maine Outdoors Experiences will happen in the fall on the water or at a fish hatchery with a fisheries biologist, and during winter with biologists on a visit to a black bear den.

The department preserves, protects and enhances the inland fisheries and wildlife resources of Maine. Established in 1880 to protect big game populations, the department has since evolved in scope to include protection and management of fish, non-game wildlife, and habitats, as well as restoration of endangered species like the bald eagle, according to the release.

In addition to its conservation duties, the department also is responsible for enabling and promoting the safe enjoyment of Maine’s outdoors — from whitewater rafting to boating, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation.

To enter the contest, visit KeeperoftheMaineOutdoors.com. Entrants must be 18 years old to be eligible for the contest, and the Maine Wildlife Park experience entry deadline is noon July 22.

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