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Warden Service Responds to Allegations Made in Newspaper Report

The Maine Warden Service is disputing 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,” says Maine Warden Service Lt. Dan Scott.

He says the Maine Sunday Telegram article, which alleges multiple infractions on the part of the warden service, including entrapment and evidence-padding, is incorrect.

Scott says the department was acting on information given to them by local residents upset over the illegal killing of wildlife, and he says 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 says. “They openly talked about that and about concealing evidence so that they wouldn’t be caught.”

Scott says 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 says the officer documented more than 300 infractions of the law.

The wardens’ statement disputes 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 say the vegetables were returned, and at no time, they say, 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.

Steve Greenlee, Managing Editor of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram offers this response to the wardens' rebuttal to the article in question, reported by Colin Woodard:  

"We stand by the story and we stand by Colin, who is one of the finest journalists anywhere. He’s a Polk Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, so his track record speaks for itself. We still have not received all of the public records we’ve requested from the Maine Warden Service, including emails between 11 wardens and the producers of “North Woods Law,” an uncensored copy of the policies for undercover agents (the 16-page version they gave us had 15 pages almost completely redacted), and an estimate of what the two-year undercover operation in Allagash cost the taxpayers of Maine."