Old News Archive

Simmons named Warden of the Year

April 14, 2006 - TRC

AUGUSTA, Maine - Game Warden Dave Simmons, a game warden since 1997, was honored today when he was named the 2005 Maine Warden of the Year at the Maine Warden Service 2006 Awards Banquet in Winslow.

"Dave possesses a unique quality where he often works for the greater good without seeking credit for his actions. Dave routinely initiates investigations and plays a significant role in solving wildlife crimes, but in the end does not seek recognition," said Colonel Tom Santaguida, Chief of the Maine Warden Service. "Dave's priority is getting the job done. It's difficult to say enough about Warden Simmons' intensity, drive, and positive attitude. He is a valued member of the Maine Warden Service and most worthy of the honor of Warden of the Year."

Simmons was honored for his investigative skills, attitude and tireless enthusiasm. Dave is quick to assist other games wardens, and did so this past fall during the moose hunt in Aroostook County. His investigative work was pivotal in making a case against two hunters who had illegally killed two moose. His work ethic also shone forth this fall when after a directive to make waterfowl protection a priority was distributed, Simmons detected 28 waterfowl violations this past season.

Simmons was also involved in three night hunting cases this fall, including one where on violator was apprehended for his involvement in two separate violations the same night. Based on a complaint of night hunting activity, Dave set up his deer simulator in a remote area during the wee morning hours of opening day. A poacher illuminated the deer and shot long before legal time. Upon apprehension of this wildlife law violator, Dave observed blood and hair on his clothing and face. After a series of questions, Dave was able to gain a confession that the man had already illegally shot and killed a deer at 3:30 a.m. that same morning.

Dave has also spent countless hours dealing with the State Crime Lab to obtain material that will enable him and all wardens to better effectively deal with evidence that needs to be processed at the crime lab. Dave was recently put in charge of evidence collection for the Search and Rescue Incident Management Team. Dave has researched the newest evidence collection methods and has made evidence collection kits available to the field. He routinely travels to section and division meetings to educate wardens on the newest, most modern techniques that will help them prevail in court. Dave has also stepped up to the plate and has become the next person to head the wildlife forensics lab in Bangor.

Dave has also been instrumental in working with The National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the protection of the federally endangered Atlantic salmon. Dave has spent long hours patrolling Atlantic salmon watersheds and because of his efforts, a grant was awarded to the Warden Service for overtime and specialized equipment to protect Atlantic salmon. In a letter of support for Warden Simmons' nomination, United States Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Eric Holmes writes that "Dave has exhibited the self driven enthusiasm and extraordinary work ethic that the Maine Warden Service is known for. Through countless hours of excellent investigative work Dave has won the respect of myself and all other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agents that have worked with him."

Game Wardens Jeremy Kemp of Carroll Plt. and Paul Farrington of Springfield received Meritorious Service Awards for conduct above the ordinary course of duty, in which a warden because of their initiative courage and diligence places themselves in danger while performing an unusual task. The pair searched at night for and found a pair of teenage boys whose canoe had overturned on East Grand Lake during a storm.

Game Wardens Joey Gardner of Edmunds, James Martin of Baileyville, Joseph McBrine of East Machias and Brad Richard of Princeton received Meritorious Service Awards for their initiative, courage and diligence in a search for two men on Cathance Lake last spring who tragically drowned.

Game Warden Sergeant Ron Dunham of Lincoln received a Meritorious Service Award for his part in a rescue of two canoeists stranded on an island on the rain swollen Kenduskeag River. Dunham used the hovercraft in the treacherous waters to rescue the pair, who were already losing their ability to use their hands due to hypothermia.

The following Game Wardens received Exemplary Service Awards for rendering outstanding service that deserves special attention: Dan Scott of Hampden for his job in an investigation and conviction in a fatal hunting incident. Jeremy Judd of Gray and Dave Chabot of Livermore for their valiant search for 14 year old girl who slipped and fell into the Little Androscoggin river. The pair searched for 30 minutes before the girl was located in a deep pool of the river, efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. Jason Luce for his investigative work into a fatal jet ski accident that led to a manslaughter conviction. Michael Eaton and Daniel Carroll for their work in apprehending two trappers who were illegally trapping bobcat and fisher. Shon Theriault of Hartford for his work in spearheading the warden service technology initiative which will equip every game warden with a laptop, cutting down on paper work and increasing efficiency for officers.

Game Warden Dan Scott and his canine Roxy received the Search and Rescue Canine Case of the Year award, and Warden Mark Merrifield and his canine Aspen received the K9 Conservation Law Enforcement Case of the Year Award.

Sergeant Pat Devlin of Carmel received the Supervisor of the Year Award for demonstrating superior knowledge and leadership in supervisory law enforcement and by doing so has gained the respect of fellow officers, department employees and other agencies. Retired Game Warden Virgil Grant received the 2005 legendary Game Warden Award.

Congressman Michael Michaud received the Colonel's Award for providing distinguished service to the Maine Warden Service for his efforts in procuring nearly $600,000 for the Maine Warden Service through the Office of Justice Programs Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. This technology grant money will be used for equipping all Maine Game Wardens with computers, increasing efficiency for written reports and assisting wardens in search and rescue operations.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.