Old News Archive

Wykes named Warden of the Year

April 27, 2007 - TRC

AUGUSTA, Maine – Game Warden Neal Wykes of Naples, a game warden of 26 years, was honored today when he was named the 2006 Maine Warden of the Year at the Maine Warden Service 2007 Awards Banquet in Winslow.

“During his 26 years of service” said Colonel Tom Santaguida, Chief of the Maine Warden Service. “Warden Wykes has consistently performed his duties an extraordinary high level, setting the performance bar to a point that others should aspire to.”

Wykes was honored for his work in one of the busiest recreational areas of the State. The Naples District contains the busiest boating region of the State, an intensive open water and ice fishing season, many hunters and plentiful game, and recreational ATV and snowmobiling.

“What strikes me the most significantly about Neal is his professional demeanor and consistency year after year in a district that is second to none in regards to the shear numbers of contacts with the sporting public,” said his supervisor, Game Warden Sergeant Tim Place.

Although known primarily as a water activity district, Naples also has some remote areas with dense populations of game. Deer and turkey harvests are high, which in turn generates the corresponding enforcement responsibilities to Warden Wykes.

Wykes’ district also includes the 6000-acre Hancock Land property that is open to the public for ATV and snow sled use. Wykes’ ability to keep this activity under control has been remarked positively upon by the property owner to the Warden Service. Being sensitive and responsive to landowner/land user relationships has helped maintain access to land that might otherwise be off limits to the public.

Wykes has been the primary officer investigating a yearly average of two dozen boating accidents that resulted in personal injury or death and countless others involving substantial property damage. Other recreational vehicle accident investigations, including ATV and snowmobile, are handled efficiently and with precision. Warden Wykes possesses considerable knowledge and expertise in recreational vehicle accident investigation and reconstruction, often being called on for guidance by fellow game wardens that find themselves as primary investigators of an unusual accident.

Wykes currently is a member of the airboat team and has been so since its inception 15 years ago. He also is the Southern Team Leader of the Warden Service color guard and has been an active member of the team for 23 years. Neal is one of the go to people on decibel meter operation and is often called upon to facilitate enforcement of noise emission violations. He also instructs on this type enforcement activity, as well as recreational vehicle accident investigation, at every Warden Service Academy. Wykes was on the firearms training team for a decade and won the coveted Commissioner’s trophy in 1983. Neal was also instrumental in setting up the new Naples sub-station that allows area wardens to use their computers on a high speed network connection.

“Warden Wykes is a very recognizable and respected member of the Lakes Region community and has developed relationships that aid in his mission. Whether it is the State Police, County Sheriff’s Department, or Naples Marine Safety, Neal doesn’t hesitate to lend a hand or ask for one when needed,” said Santaguida, “Twenty-six years of calm, confidence and consistency makes Warden Neal Wykes a valued member of the Maine Warden Service and most worthy of our highest honor and title of ‘Warden of the Year’.”

Along with the Warden of the Year Award, Meritorious Service Awards were awarded 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.

Game Warden Sergeant Dan Menard of Houlton and Game Warden Bill Chandler of Shirley received Meritorious Service Awards for their dramatic rescue of a lady trapped in a submerged vehicle in Moosehead Lake.

Game Warden Chris Cloutier of Bridgton received a Meritorious Service Award for his courage and determination in apprehending an armed and dangerous bank robbery suspect on the grounds of an Elementary School in Lovell.

Game Warden Rick Clowry of Harmony received a Meritorious Service Award for his rescue of three overturned canoeists who weren’t wearing lifejackets on an icy Kingsbury Pond last April. The canoe tipped over, and Clowry went into the icy water twice to save the victims.

Game Warden Pilot Dan Dufault of Turner received a Meritorious Service Award for his part in the rescue of two lost children who were floating down the Kennebec River. Dufault flew in conditions that kept most planes grounded, but realizing that the lost children wouldn’t last long in the weather, he flew anyway.

The following Game Wardens received Exemplary Service Awards for rendering outstanding service that deserves special attention: Game Warden Alan Dudley of Easton for his expertise in search and rescue, fish and game enforcement, and his record of achievement over the past ten years; Game Warden Bill Livezey of Sherman Mills in recognition of his outstanding undercover work in Operation Deer Snare in Washington County in the Fall of 2005; and Game Warden Bruce Loring of Enfield for freeing an entangled warden service diver who was running out of air under the ice on Cold Stream Pond. The pair were retrieving a snowmobile that went through the ice.

Game Warden Dan Scott of Hamden and his canine Roxy received the Search and Rescue Canine Case of the Year award, for their part in finding and rescuing a diabetic man who was found nearly unconscious, and Warden Mark Merrifield of Searsmont and his canine Aspen received the K9 Conservation Law Enforcement Case of the Year Award for their part in a poaching case involving a crossbow with night vision equipment. The case netted the suspect three days in jail and a $2,000.00 fine.

Game Warden Captain Joel Wilkinson of Windsor 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. Wilkinson was honored for what he has accomplished in this past year in the newly created captain position, along with his consistency of outstanding performance for his thirteen years of service.

Retired Game Warden Gary Dumond of Aroostook County received the 2006 legendary Game Warden Award.

Submitted by : Mark Latti, DIFW

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