Posts Tagged ‘game warden’

Trapped

Although it’s a cold and dreary day, that wasn’t going to keep me from going on my usual walk in the woods.  I walked past Evergreen Valley Inn and to a dirt road that is seasonally maintained by the Forest Service.   A monster-sized SUV with Massachusetts plates sped past, followed by a pickup truck with “Maine State Game Warden” painted prominently on its sides and rear.  I figured I would be seeing the warden’s truck more often in the area, since deer hunting season opens this Saturday, so I didn’t give it much thought.  My dog Spencer and I continued along, and then took a side path on some former logging roads and abandoned settlers’ land.  Soon we were bushwhacking through the overgrown woods, although due to the deciduous forest is was easy to see where we were going.  Rain threatened; I really didn’t want to walk back in wet clothes in 35-degree weather, so I decided to head back home before the sky opened.

As we made our way back to the forest road, the SUV with Massachusetts plates stopped alongside of me.  Inside were two women in their 60s.  After introducing herself, the driver said to me, “I hope you don’t mind, but when I saw you were with your dog,  I felt I needed to stop and warn you . . . yesterday we were hiking and my dog was injured by a trap.”

She had been hiking the popular trail up Lords Hill where there is an abandoned mica, quartz and beryl mine, and where people who pick through the “mine dump” of blasted rock can still find gemstones if they are lucky.  Just before she got to the top, only 1 foot off the trail, her miniature schnauzer suddenly went crazy, with erratic movement and horrible noise.  She figured he had encountered a small animal, but when she looked, he was bleeding profusely from the mouth and thrashing wildly.  She ran over to him and found he had gotten his foot caught in the jaws of a trap!

She told me that had her friend not been with her, she doesn’t know what she would have done.  It was very tricky for the two women to free the dog from the trap – – first they had to figure out its release mechanism so they wouldn’t cause the dog even more harm – – and it was connected to a heavy chain wrapped around a tree, so it was hard to maneuver.  Carrying her little dog, they flew down the trail to her car and rushed to an emergency vet about 25 miles away.  Fortunately, the dog did not lose his leg and he will be okay.

She called the Maine State Game Warden and told him about the unfortunate incident.  So together they walked up the trail, where she pointed out the offending trap.  The game warden checked the trap – – a licensed trapper puts an ID tag on each individual trap he uses – – and there was no tag.  This meant it was a poacher.  But, the warden said, while the placement of the trap was both stupid and unfortunate (because many people and their dogs use this trail), had the trap been tagged, since it was off-trail (even only 1 foot) it would have been “legal.”  What’s worse, trappers use a bait scent to attract an animal to the area of the trap, which is how her dog got caught – he was sniffing around.

I find it ironic that most of the dangers associated with the woods are not due to confrontations with wild animals, but are usually human-caused – – and this was no exception.  Even during the height of deer hunting season, I am careful to wear bright orange and to make sure my dog is wearing a bright orange safety bandanna as well.  It had simply never occurred to me that I would run into a danger like trapping!  And worse, now that the leaves are covering the ground, there is simply no way to see a trap and my poor dog is especially vulnerable.  Even keeping him on a leash wouldn’t have helped – – this trap was only 1 foot off the trail.

Needless to say, until trapping season is over, I think I shall be avoiding unmarked trails, nor will I bushwhack or traverse some of the more remote areas nearby.  This poor woman’s story really left me shaken, because she had just gone on what was to be a pleasant, easy hike with her friend, and her dog was merely doing what dogs do  – – sniffing around in the woods, but staying nearby – – and due to one person’s lack of regard, her dog barely escaped  a grievous injury.

I’m sad – – and mad.

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Almost Over

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That’s not smoke, fog, nor a low cloud – – it’s snow blowing due to high winds. Brrrrr! (click to enlarge)

I’m now back in Maine:  YAY!

While in the post office yesterday, it became clear to me that not everyone is as excited by winter as I am.

“Didja he-yuh, more snow fuh this week?”

“Ayuh.  I say, enough already!”

Perhaps it’s because I was gone for a month and missed the cruelest part of winter (it was -30 with windchill); but I still get excited with every bit of snowfall.  Thanks to the woodstove, our house is always nice and toasty, and we really are at the stage where the weather can’t quite decide if it’s the end of winter or beginning of spring –  – temperatures continue to hover  just above or below freezing.  Hopefully we can avoid a lot of sleet, which is never fun, and of course, once the melt begins, we have mud season to look forward to.

But for now, there is still ample snow on the ground, much to the delight of snowmobilers  and dogsledders who love to explore the wooded trails that crisscross the White Mountains.

People often ask us if we are bored on Shabbos.  It is very quiet, but never uninteresting or unenjoyable.  This is actually a busy time in this part of the woods, and there is more traffic than usual (in summer we get an average of one car per hour down our road, if that).  While out for a walk this past Shabbos, we saw at least a dozen snowmobiles, plus a dog team of 6 American Eskimo, Husky, and Malamute dogs pulling a sled with a “musher,” his wife , and their preteen daughter.  Of course we stopped to chat – – that’s just what you do in Maine.  We also met up with the law enforcement side of the forest service – – a game warden.  We spoke with him as well, and he told us that they patrol the trails (on snowmobiles, of course), checking snowmobile registrations (you have to register your snowmobile much like you register a car) as well as ensuring that snowmobilers are sober and safety-conscious.

Just down the street from us, we drive down this six-mile-long road, which leads to Evans Notch in New Hampshire, all summer long, but it's open only to hikers, snowmobilers and dogsledders in the winter.  Think of this scene the next time you are stuck in city traffic!

Just down the street from us, we drive down this six-mile-long road, which leads to Evans Notch in New Hampshire, all summer long, but it’s open only to hikers, snowmobilers and dogsledders in the winter. Think of this scene the next time you are stuck in city traffic!

As we made our way back home, we met up with a single woman who was also out for a walk.  Laura is a life-long Mainer whose Maine roots go back many generations.  It turns out I’ve passed her house many times on my walks in the woods – – she is  my  second-closest full-time neighbor, only a mile-and-a-quarter away (!).  (By “full-time,” I am excluding those who live in summer/vacation cabins.)

She regaled us with stories of  her “Grampy,”  who lived in Norway, ME (about a 30 minute drive from here) his entire life.  He had worked for decades at a wooden dowel factory.  It was his custom to walk home for lunch.  After a perfect on-time attendance record, one day he was 15 minutes late getting back to the factory after lunch.  He was so mortified, he figured if he couldn’t walk fast enough to get back to work on time, he wasn’t good for anything.  So he quit that job on the spot!

“That’s when Grampy was 89,” Laura added.

Life is awfully good here in Maine.