Youth learn about animals at warden service booth

5 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Cameron Sterling of Presque Isle loves to hunt with his grandfather.

The 13-year-old began accompanying his grandfather on trips into the woods when he was in kindergarten and officially began hunting after taking a hunter safety class last year.

Thus far, he hasn’t taken an animal, but that has not dampened his love of the activity.

That is why he was especially interested in a booth set up by the Maine Warden Service at the Aid For Kids educational fair in Houlton on Saturday, which featured a variety of different animal pelts.

“I have never seen a bear pelt,” he said after examining a black bear hide at the booth. “I have always wondered what one looked like.”

Ethan Toner, 10, of Houlton, holds up an an animal pelt on display at the Maine Warden Service booth during the Aid For Kids educational fair in Houlton on Saturday, Sept. 22.
(Jen Lynds)

The bear pelt was one of several items set up at the warden service booth, which attracted a number of people, according to Warden James Gushee. The display, which included a variety of antlers and animal bones, was set up to educate residents to identify different animal tracks, showcase the pelts, and teach individuals various other facts about woodland creatures found in Maine.

“We have seen a lot of kids today,” said Gushee. “The kids are most interested in the pelts and seeing what they look and feel like. It is not often that people get to see such a variety.”

Gushee said the majority of the pelts came from previous cases investigated by the warden service, including those involving animals that were poached.

Sterling said he was surprised to hear that male black bears can weigh up to 600 pounds and can run at speeds of 35 miles per hour or more.

“I knew they were big, but I had no idea they were that big,” he said. “I guess I also considered bears to be kind of slow because they are so big, but 35 miles per hour is pretty good.”

Gushee said the warden service often conducts such educational events. He also said that fairs such as the one on Saturday also allow wardens to promote hunter safety, outline hunting rules and regulations, and discourage poaching.

Jeremy Hastings, a Houlton resident, brought his two children to the fair.

“They loved the warden service booth,” he said. “We don’t hunt in my family, but we all love animals and we love to walk in the woods and look for animal tracks. It is a shame to hear that some of the pelts were poached. That is terrible, but I am glad that the wardens turned that into something positive by giving us the opportunity to see and feel these pelts up close. It is a great educational opportunity.”