April 21, 2023

Game Warden Of the Year Honored, Other Wardens Recognized At Annual Awards Banquet

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2023

WINSLOW, Maine - Game Warden Pilot Jeff Spencer of Eagle Lake, a game warden for nearly 25 years, was honored as the Maine Game Warden of the year by his peers at the annual awards banquet at the Winslow VFW Hall on Friday.

Governor Janet Mills was the featured speaker at the annual awards ceremony, which also included remarks from Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso.

"It is an honor to recognize the outstanding work of those protecting Maines natural resources, and protecting those that enjoy them," said Camuso. The outstanding work of the men and women in the Maine Warden Service is well known not only in Maine, but beyond our borders as well.

The awards ceremony gives special recognition to game wardens for exceptional performance during 2022. Awards are given for the Maine Game Warden of the Year, Game Warden Supervisor of the Year, the Legendary Game Warden of the Year, as well as awards for conduct above the normal line of duty, outstanding work that merits special attention, and recognizes individuals and groups who assisted the Maine Warden Service.

Achievements that were recognized included incidents where human lives were saved, and other awards highlighted the conservation of Maines fish and wildlife resources in ways deserving of special recognition. The following were recipients of this years annual awards.

2022 Maine Game Warden of the Year

Game Warden Pilot Jeff Spencer of Eagle Lake, a game warden for nearly 25 years, was honored as the Maine Game Warden of the year by his peers at the annual awards banquet at the Winslow VFW Hall on Friday.

Spencer began his warden career in the North Maine Woods in the Estcourt Station district where he quickly made an impact with numerous cases regarding over the limit fish, and night hunting. Since that time, he later was promoted to sergeant, then became a Game Warden Pilot. In all of his positions, Spencer has been a role model for others, and displayed a hardworking attitude that carried over to others he worked with.

Over the years, Spencer became well know for his investigative skills, including one case involved a report of three dead moose found near the shores of Little Clayton Lake during the summer. Spencer worked tirelessly on this case, piecing together small pieces of physical evidence and clues, never stopping when encountering any roadblocks on the case. Spencers investigation led him to Tennessee, where he served a search warrant on a Tennessee man, who was convicting for the killing of three moose out of season, and the waste of three moose.

As a pilot, Spencer was praised for his search and rescue skills from the air, as well as helping game wardens protect fish and wildlife resources. Spencer has been responsible to for several recent successful search and rescue finds from his aircraft, as well as multiple fish and wildlife cases.

During the fall of 2020 Pilot Spencer was called out to a search off the Island Pond Road in the North Maine Woods. By late afternoon, after flying for over 10 hours, Pilot located the lost subject along a brook several miles from the vehicle. From the air, Spencer has a unique ability to observe illegal activities, then direct game wardens on the ground to the area which has led to many over the limit cases, gear restriction violations, deer baiting cases and illegal moose cases.

As stated in his nomination, He is held in the highest regard amongst all his peers and has earned a reputation as a hard charging Warden who has given his all for nearly 25 years. Pilot Spencer is and has always been the quintessential picture of a Maine Game Warden, stepping out from trees in places where the public never expected to be checked. His work as a Warden, K-9 handler and currently as a Pilot has left a lasting impact on the people and resources of Maine. For all these reasons and more, Pilot Jefferey Spencer is the Maine Game Warden of the Year award.

2022 Maine Game Warden Supervisor of the Year: Sergeant Mike Joy, of Division E in Ashland, was awarded the Supervisor of the Year Award. Mike has been a sergeant in eastern Aroostook County since 2018 and is well respected by his peers and partners of the agency.

Mike began his career with the Maine Warden Service in 1993 and spent his early career in a variety of districts including Kittery, Daaquam, Winter Harbor, Rangeley, Brunswick, Sebago Lake, Sanford, and Rip Dam and then north North Berwick. These different districts allowed Joy to work with a number of others in different types of districts which helped him as a supervisor.

Joy became a member of the dive team three years into his career, and worked his way to dive team leader. Mike became the training leader on the team and performed many of the administration duties. In 2010, he was promoted to corporal and became the official commander of the MWS Dive Team. As the leader of the dive team, he was tasked with recovering the victims of fatal water incidents in the state. During his tenure, he wrote grants and secured funding for major projects including the ROV, the side scan sonar, and the new dive boat, which made diving operations more efficient and safer.

As a sergeant beginning in 2018, his positive leadership style was embraced by not only his section wardens, but also the division. With excellent organizational skills, Joy utilizes local wardens and their knowledge for enforcement details around the division that have included large scale opening day road checks to check compliance on grouse hunting and fall fishing, ice fishing details on Long Lake, and working on the moose hunt.

In conclusion, Joys nomination read that His reputation as a positive, compassionate, professional supervisor who pays attention to small details is second to none. He believes in taking care of his people and leads by example. His coaching and communication style is contagious, and he recognizes the importance of being a well-balanced warden. By doing this, he gets the best out of his wardens. He is the ultimate team player who always promotes the mission of the Department. Mike has no ego and is very quick to praise. Its for these reasons and many more that Sgt. Mike Joy is the 2022 Supervisor of the Year.

2022 Legendary Game Warden Award: Retired Game Warden Pat Dorian was awarded the 2022 Legendary Game Warden for an outstanding 34 year career. Pat began his career in Chamberlain Lake as a district warden, where he tells the story that he let the first fisherman he caught without a license go without a ticket because no one told him how to fill out a summons book when he started.

Dorian worked in a variety of areas throughout the state, before he became a sergeant in the Moosehead Lake area in 1986. He later was promoted

Dorian was commended by multiple nominators for the outstanding work environment he created as a supervisor, and his lead by example style. Pat never asked anyone to do anything that he would not do. while Pat was known as a tireless worker, he also made sure that his staff that he supervised made time for their families, often covering their shifts when coverage was sparse so they could attend family events.

Dorian became the supervisor of the search and rescue ream, and modernized the way the team conducted searches. He upgraded equimpement and built strong relations shps with volunteer staff and teams. Dorians reputation and intuition as search team leader was revered. Two of the more high profile cases he helped solve through the recovery of murder victims resulted in books being written about the searches and the warden service.

Pat retired in 2009, but is still very active in the waren service. He helps with maintenance of remote camps, reports on illegal activities, always helps wardens who seeks advice, and works to help with annual meetings, and work details.

As the nomination concluded, Pat is always thinking of so many others, and hes always nominating others for this Legendary Award, he never thinks of himself, but it is high time, he is so deserving.

2022 K9 Search and Rescue of the Year Award: Game Warden Michael Latti and K9 Luna Limerick/Gorham district The team was recognized for their work in finding 75-year-old Joseph Nolan of Etna who became lost while going to check his game cameras. The man spent the night in the woods and thought he was not going to make it until he heard the bell attached to K9 Luna who found him and licked him.

2022 K9 Conservation Case of the Year Award: Game Warden Preston Pomerleau and K9 Gordon Portage Lake district The team was recognized for their work in solving an illegally shot moose. Gordon located a shell casing near the dead moose, and in interviewing hunters in the area, Pomerleau was able to get a hunter to allow him to check his firearm which had a spent cartridge that the State Police Crime Lab matched to

2022 Meritorious Service Award Game Warden Troy Dauphinee Abbott district, and Warden Pilot Nicholas Mangino The two wardens were recognized for their quick response actions and risking their own lives in rescuing a snowmobiler who they saw break through the ice.

2022 Exemplary Service Awards: Game Warden Camden Akins -- Bar Harbor/ Lamoine district Game Warden Akins was recognized for his work in solving an illegal trapping case, that later expanding to other violations including baiting deer and killing deer out of season, as well as illegally trapping on national park lands. The case resulted in six search warrants and 66 summonses.

Game Warden Will Schuman Damariscotta district Recognized for his work in apprehending multiple night hunters, and assisting new game wardens in getting to know their area and helping them apprehend multiple poachers.

Game Warden Cody Lounder Auburn district Recognized for his outstanding work during hunting season in his area, resulting in 23 summonses, as well as apprehending a man who had been hunting after his license had been revoked, and for killing multiple deer illegally.

Game Warden Mark Hutcheson -- Clayton Lake district Recognized for his work patrolling his district, assisting other agencies, and being a vital part in assisting in the moose survival project and the adaptive moose hunt.

Game Warden Paul Mason -- Brownville/Milo district Recognized for his outstanding work with his dgital forensic examination equimpement and his experits that let to charges in three night hunting cases, on hunting under the influence, hunting over bait, illegal bear baits, hunting closed season and many others; as well as his work in summonsing someone who used a vehicle to kill a deer..

Game Wardens Ryan Fitzpatrick Grand Isle/New Sweden district and Kayle Hamilton Eagle Lake district Recognized for their work in charging two males with hunting moose during a closed season, hunting moose without a permit, hunting without a valid license, hunting on Sunday, and waste of a wild bird or animal.

Game Warden Corporal Lucas Bellanceau Fryeburg/Hiram district Recognized for his valiant efforts to try and save the life of a 9-year-old girl who became trapped in a car after a large tree fell on the car during a severe storm in Standish along the shores of Sebago Lake.

Game Warden Jared Herrick Bingham/Caratunk district Recognized for the apprehension of three night hunters within minutes after hearing four gunshots in a remote portion of the North Maine woods.

Game Warden Investigator Josh Smith, Game Wardens Jeremy Judd Gray district , Harry Wiegman Turner district, Mindy Rugg Rumford district Recognized for their outstanding work and patience in arresting two poachers and ultimately charging them with 36 violations pertaining two 13 illegally killed deer.

In addition to the above awards, Jeff McGown, the senior manager at Waste Management in Norridgewock was recognized with the Colonels Award for his work in helping with Landowner Relations Cleanup Day; Maine State Police Sergeant Scott Bryant was recognized for his work with Maine Game Wardens and incident reconstruction, upgrading equipment, and general expertise. The Maine Warden Service Association also honored MDIFW biologist Kendall Marden with the partnership award, and the Millet Family, Becky Hughes and Cheryl Denz, and Matt and Fred Thurston with Merit Awards.