September 20, 2020

Governor LePage Signs Bill to Increase Wages for Game Wardens

Press Release from the State of Maine:

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today signed a bill into law bringing Maine law enforcement wages in the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Marine Resources more in line with other New England states.

LD 1653, “An Act Implementing Pay Increases for Certain Law Enforcement Employees to Aid in Recruitment and Retention,” sponsored by Republican House Leader, Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport), provides for the upward adjustment of salary schedules in fiscal year 2015-16 by 12 percent to 18 percent for certain law enforcement positions in the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Marine Resources.

“Law enforcement officers across Maine put their lives on the line every day to protect the Maine people, and the value of their public service ought to be reflected in a decent salary,” said Governor LePage. “To make the job even more difficult, wages throughout state law enforcement positions are not comparable to local law enforcement agencies or other departments in New England.”

Recruitment in law enforcement positions within State government remains a challenge. For example, the Department of Public Safety has a total of 324 Maine State Police positions with 32 now vacant. An additional 25 members of the Maine State Police are eligible for retirement this year.

According to the Department of Public Safety, there has been a dramatic decrease in applicants for the State Police and only 11 successful applicants in 2015. Troopers in other New England states average $6 to $14 more per hour compared to Maine. The State is also competing with local police agencies that pay higher salaries than the Maine State Police.

Maine’s commercial fisheries and hunting and fishing are highly dependent on the work carried out by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources, and the bill adjusts wage parity issues accordingly for law enforcement positions within these agencies, as well.

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It Ain’t My Father’s Warden Service

I wonder if Maine, as with other states that are being like chameleons, will eventually morph its Warden Service name into something, oh let’s say environmentally catchy like Natural Resources Office – unoriginal but why force any issue and dare to be different. But even with a name change to natural resource officer, it wouldn’t do service to the fact that “game” wardens appear to be spending less and less time being wardens of game and more and more time being counselors, councilors, search and rescue personnel, auto accident investigators and television stars: and for good luck, let’s toss in people who investigate private lands for illegal dumping.

An article found today in the Kennebec Journal in Maine, the writer labels the Maine wardens as “unsung heroes” and believes they are now “finally getting their due.”

So, let me get this straight. To this writer, editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, she thinks that Maine wardens have never gotten “their due” until they finally got completely away from the jobs they were hired to do? Well, that’s not exactly true. What job was they hired to do?

In 1880 there seemed a need for a law enforcement agency to enforce the newly created hunting, trapping and fishing laws. Dang! So, some brilliant person devised the name game warden. Their job was to police the game and make sure outdoor sportsmen were following the laws. In case anyone was wondering, these laws became necessary to conserve our game animals to ensure their sustainability. Even this author makes note that once thousands of applicants wanted to be a Maine Warden……that’s when they were game wardens. Today, it seems that Maine Game Wardens are as I described above and few want that job.

Even though sportsmen, along with the anti hunting environmentalists and animal rights quacks, complain that game is being poached and needs to be reduced (wardens will say they are understaffed and underfunded), Maine is sending officers to Connecticut to “debrief” some involved in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Along with this account, we are always reading of accounts of wardens doing what was once considered jobs for local law enforcement and/or state police and trained social workers.

I could spend a great deal of time listing all the non game activities wardens do but please I don’t think the Maine Warden Service’s role being social workers and television stars warrants the claim of “unsung hero” and “getting their due.”

If there is such a need for these programs, why a game warden service. If the Warden Service has time to do all these other things, then they are either overstaffed or are not doing their game work. Maine sportsmen should not be paying for the wardens to be doing auto accident investigations and counseling people in other states for whatever the reasons. What’s any of this got to do with game animals and laws that protect them? And why should the sportsmen be paying for it?

wardenservice

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