Maine’s moose massacre presented in fiction and fact

I wish I’d thought of it. Not that I can write as well as novelist Paul Doiron, but it sure would have been fun to try.

And I’d have had a leg up, given that the foundation of Paul’s fourth and best novel, Massacre Pond published this month by Minotaur Books, is constructed on two issues with which I am very familiar: the wasteful and wanton slaughter of nine moose and two deer in Soldiertown in 2000, and a proposal to create a new national park on the eastern boundary of Baxter State Park.

Five years after the worst wildlife crime in the state’s history, Roberta Scruggs published the story in a three-part series on her website. Scruggs was the state’s top outdoor news reporter during much of my time at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. She wrote for the Maine Sunday Telegram initially, then moved to the Lewiston Sun Journal, before launching her own website.

In the category that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, I urge you to read Roberta’s Soldiertown stories. The hero of that story is warden Mike Favreau, who, working on his own without the support of his superiors, identified the culprits, unfortunately too late for prosecution.

The hero of Doiron’s novels is warden Mike Bowditch, and he also solves the moose massacre case, but not before a good dose of murder and mayhem, all of which is required these days for a popular novel.

But Doiron’s clever linkage of the moose slaughter to the national park proposal really hooked me, seeming not all that farfetched. I swept through the 300-page novel quickly, unable to put it down, eager to see what was going to happen in the next chapter. It is well written and compelling.

Read More   (You can read more about Doiron’s new novel and Roberta’s stories in the outdoor news blog on my website, and gain access to Roberta’s stories).

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,, 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.