North Woods Law: Meet Warden Alan Curtis
Whether protecting the wildlife of Maine, or working on his moose calls, you can’t deny Game Warden Alan Curtis will stop at nothing to do his job, all while maintaining his trademark sense of humor. Warden Curtis was kind enough to take some time out from the line of duty to chat with Animal Planet about his life, career and the craziest animal encounters he has had on and off the job! Get to know the Machias, Maine native and expecting father (Congrats, Warden!) with this Q&A!
Animal Planet: Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from and what do you like to do?
AC: I was born and raised for the most part in Machias, Maine. I was the typical outdoorsy kid growing up, hunting, fishing and camping. After high school, I fought fires out west for two summers and worked at a hardware store during college. I was hired by the Machias Police Department and worked for them for two-and-a-half years until becoming a game warden in 2006. I now live with my wife, very soon-to-be-daughter, four dogs (including Cruizer) and a few chickens in a house I just built. When I’m not working, I like spending time fishing, hunting and trapping. And now I will be able to spend time with my little girl.
AP: And what about your partner K-9 Cruizer? What’s he like when he’s not on the job?
AC: When Cruizer is “off the clock,” he is your average, goofy dog. He loves to play with the other dogs and just do dog stuff. As soon as I say “work,” he is at the door ready to jump in the truck.
AP: What inspired you to become a game warden?
AC: I always remember wanting to be a Maine Game Warden from the time I was little. It was a dream I had and the older I became, I realized just how much I wanted the job. And as luck would have it, everything worked out.
AP: What makes a game warden different from any other law enforcement officer? There’s clearly an added dimension with the wildlife factor, but what else is there to the job?
AC: Being a Maine Game Warden is different than traditional law enforcement in a sense. Our primary responsibilities are with fish and wildlife law enforcement as well as search and rescue. We also enforce all-recreational vehicle laws (like ATVs and snowmobiles) and boating laws. We are state law enforcement officers with state-wide jurisdiction to enforce any and all laws of the state. Especially in rural areas, the game warden becomes the “sheriff” of the town he or she lives, so to speak. You can be checking a fishing license one minute and handling a domestic situation the next.
AP: What’s harder to deal with as a game warden—humans or animals?
AC: Without a doubt, humans. The animals don’t talk back, are usually more than happy to just get away from you and not cause trouble, where some humans, not so much.
AP: This week’s episode is very intense. There’s an illegal doe poaching and you personally handled the case with the missing hiker that was later found dead from what looked like natural causes…
AC: These stories show just how different each call can be. You never know what you are going to be dealing with from one minute to the next. In the case of the hunter, this is something we deal with frequently as game wardens. It’s always a sad situation, but at least we can provide closure to the family by locating their loved ones. In this particular case, this hunter quickly died doing something he loved in a place he loved doing it. That alone will provide a level of comfort in a situation like this.
AP: As you point out in the week’s episode, fishing dead moose from bogs is just another day on the job! But in all seriousness, what’s the craziest animal encounter you’ve had as a game warden?
AC: There have been some crazy animal encounters that go along with this job, from seizing illegal lizards to running from a charging moose. It’s always a little fun when you get hang on to some of the cooler animals in the state for a bit. Taking a fawn in for a day or two before it can be transported to a rehab facility for instance. Where else do you get paid to that? One of the crazy encounters I had was when my wife and I came upon a doe deer that had been struck and killed very recently to us finding it. I pulled over and removed the doe from the road, and found she was still very warm and very pregnant. I did not have a knife or a flashlight in the car so I found a bottle in the ditch, broke it, and used a piece of glass to deliver twin fawns while my wife held my cell phone for light. Sadly, they both died but it was a crazy encounter nonetheless.
AP: Finally, do you have a message for all the folks watching North Woods Law?
AC: I think it’s great that so many people have taken an interest into what we do every day as Maine Game Wardens. I speak for all of us when I say thank you for making this show a huge success. It’s great to be able to talk with people who have seen the show, and they say they had no idea that we did “this or that.” It’s been a really fun experience so far and I hope it continues.
Watch all-new episodes of North Woods Law every Thursday at 10PM EP, and come back to the BITES blog each week for a new post on the show! In the meantime, you can follow Warden Curtis on Twitter and like North Woods Law on Facebook!