Time to stop whining and start dealing with Warden Service problems

wardens patch colorThe personal attacks challenging my motives for writing about problems and issues in the Maine Warden Service are disappointing. After a long career as a political activist and advocate for sportsmen, I am used to it. But this is too serious an issue for people to resort to that.

Let me be very frank. Much of my information came from Maine game wardens, and most of the rest came in studies, reports, and recommendations issued by experts over the years. I did not make any of this up.

I admire and respect many past and current game wardens. It has really disappointed me that one of those I most admire, who has written some great books full of stories of his days as a Maine game warden, has been attacking my motives and me personally.

I just have to note that, in his books, this warden tells stories of his own, including ones in which he was called to Augusta and chewed out for not issuing enough citations. I am told that wardens are no longer judged by the number of citations they issue, although I have also heard that this is not true.

My most recent column, about the mistreatment of women in the Warden Service, is definitely a serious issue that must be addressed. Again, I did not make this up. The issues were brought to my attention by women who served in the Warden Service.

And the issues raised by news columnist Colin Woodard, of the tactics used by an undercover warden, very clearly need to be addressed by the agency and probably by the legislature. I would ask the retired warden who writes those great books, did you ever buy the beer, the guns, and the nightlights, and shoot deer at night, in order to entice others to join you so you could arrest them? I am absolutely certain that you did not. So why are you defending those practices?

Clearly, most people, including readers of this outdoor news column, believe those tactics are wrong and must stop. In my Sportsmen Say Survey, I asked, Should Maine game wardens be allowed to break the law and to encourage others to break the law, in order to arrest law breakers?

The response was overwhelming. So far 832 people have answered the question. 778 (93.51%) said no, while just 41 (4.93%) said yes and 13 (1.56%) were not sure. That’s as definitive an answer as I’ve ever gotten since I started my Sportsmen Say Survey several years ago.

So here’s my challenge to those who are attacking me and my motives. It’s time to stop whining, whining, whining, and time to start answering why, why, why?

Why are those undercover tactics necessary? Why do we have so few women wardens? Why have women wardens never been promoted to leadership positions? Why, when complaints about a game warden are received, does the Warden Service still investigate itself? Why are you continuing to attack me, instead of answering these questions and helping us address these concerns that are shared by so many people?

Why? Why? Why?


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.