North Woods Lawmen


Paul Doiron here with a sneak peek at a new reality show on the Animal Planet television channel. For reasons that should be obvious, this one is near and dear to my heart. I’m going to be the unabashed fanboy and just quote from the press release:

NORTH WOODS LAW follows Maine’s elite game-warden service as they navigate the Pine Tree State’s rugged terrain during hunting season – one of the busiest and most perilous times of the year. Each punch of the time clock is a ticket to extreme danger and drama as undercover stings and intense rescues are all in a day’s work. Whether they’re tracking bears on dangerous mountains or busting drunk drivers on ATVs, these wardens risk life and limb to protect animals and serve the people of Maine.

The show premieres tonight (March 16) at 9 p.m., but I know from talking with both the producers and the Maine Warden Service that it took months of negotiations for this series to come together.

The popularity of the TV series “Cops” made viewers think it’s a no-brainer for police officers to agree to have a camera crew riding along in a squad car (or in this case GMC pickup), but that’s hardly the case. The situations the “North Wood Law” crew hoped to record were bound to be disturbing, violent, even dangerous, which is why the Warden Service required that the cameramen wear ballistic vests. There are issues around the privacy of individuals not yet found guilty of crimes (which is why you see those blurred faces on “Cops”), and you just never know what the PR and legal ramifications might be of taped events. Whenever the press tags along, the police lose a certain degree of the control they’re used to having in terms of controlling the message that goes out to the public.

For instance, the “North Woods Law” crew was on the scene when wardens shot and killed a young adult bear in Portland last September. They captured the episode on video, and it’s a heartbreaking (and bound to be controversial) segment. The necessity of the shooting was questioned by some commenters on media websites last fall. Seeing the incident play out on television will stir emotions again, not just for Mainers, but for a national audience that includes a sizable number of animal rights activists. For writers there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but it’s not that way for cops.

So it remains to be seen how TV viewers will come to see the Maine Warden Service. I’ve met enough wardens and done enough ride-alongs to believe that on the whole the reaction will be positive. These are some good wardens on “North Woods Law”—among the best in the state. And I expect the audience who tunes into the Animal Planet will be shocked by the outrageous things these professionals have to deal with on a daily basis. Unlike the “Jersey Shore” or “The Hills,” no one needs to script these over-the-top episodes. I write about game wardens for a living, and I will tell you right now that the truth is stranger than anything that’s been in my books.

Ideally, “North Woods Law” will help readers of my novels understand Mike Bowditch and his world a little better. But at a time when the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is facing brutal cutbacks, I am more concerned that the Warden Service get the public support it deserves. Maine wardens do an important job. If more people come to understand the value of their profession, then “North Woods Law” will have served an importance purpose beyond offering a few hours of entertainment.

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7 Responses to North Woods Lawmen

  1. Deanna says:

    I hope the show pays the Service a large fee to film!!! That should help the budget. Dee

  2. MCWriTers says:

    Paul, this will be interesting. I’ve seen some earlier videos of wardens and their investigations. Something that’s always had to describe is what you’ve flagged above–that the situation is inherently changed when a crew and camera are along. It amps up the risks and amps down their flexibility.


    • joe says:

      Yes…it amps up the risks. That is the risk that there may not be enough footage left after all the sleazy warden tactics and lies are edited out!

    • Nasdaq CZAR says:

      you know that was a cold hearted vicious cruel act to destroy that bear! where was the tranquilizer gun? this is clearly wrong! you destroy the animal if it has mauled or harmed but this bear was just lost and looking for food… the warden did nothing to rescue the bear he got a shotgun out and butchered it, you call in animal control help you don’t senselessly shoot it an act like a bigshot in front of cameras this is an outrage! He should be disciplined and fined and jailed and lose his job eom

  3. Nasdaq CZAR says:

    why didn’t the warden use a tranquilizer gun on the bear??? it makes absolutely no sense to have shot and killed that lost defenseless bear he should be in jail for animal cruelty and destruction of that beautiful black bear…. its very sad he is uneducated and a fool to abuse his power for the TV to make a dramatic kill of that confused and lost bear out of its element their was no public safety issue period. He should resign from his position and be charged for intentionally destroying that bear. The warden is an idiot and should invest in proper tools such as a tranguilizer gun and have put the bear to sleep and then transported him back to the wilderness this guy is a loser and this show should be cancelled

    • Nasdaq CZAR says:

      this was a cowardly act to put down the defenseless bear it showed no signs of aggression no hostile acts towards humans its a bear it goes in trees once it got out of the tree you should have left it alone to go back where it came from, it was probably just looking for food, i pray that God punishes the warden for selfishly taking one of God’s creatures off the planet it is for his pleasure not yours you will be judged and sent to he-ll for what you did eom

    • Nasdaq CZAR says:

      you could have trapped it, you could have thrown a net over it, you could have taken it a zoo, released it back in the wilderness… there were a number of things that could have been done but to just shoot it for no reason is careless, irresponsible and foolish, and outright criminal, this guy needs mental counseling not to be on TV trying to act like the terminator… he is no hero did not save any lives did nothing but destroy a lost bear… pretty sad and pathetic… he should resign from his position and find something other to do instead of trying to showoff for the cameras… it was cowardly to say the least and disgraceful…. charges need to be brought against the warden asap eom

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