From alligators to hares, it’s been an eventful week in the outdoors

Spend enough time writing about the Maine outdoors and you’ll find any number of tales that seem too far-fetched to be true.

Maine game warden Eric Rudolph with snowshoe taken as evidence. (Photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service)

Just last year, a massive snake (Maine doesn’t have native large snakes, of course) was spotted in Wesbrook, and the townsfolk began keeping their kids indoors. We get photos of bright, white deer (which are real), and purported mountain lions tromping across our state (thus far, all debunked).

And this week, I saw a couple of outdoors news items that simply left me shaking my head. As they say, there’s never a dull moment …

Alligators gone wild! Yes, alligators. In Maine.

Here’s the scoop: On Tuesday, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, an Augusta man was found to have five small gators in his possession, which is not necessarily a problem.

Five alligators were seized in Augusta. (Photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service).

He didn’t have the required permits, according to reports, which does necessarily make the situation a problem.

Game wardens seized the little wrigglers and issued a summons to the gator-wrangler.

Exotic animals exist all across the state (see also: that huge snake that was spotted by police in Westbrook last year). To each their own … I guess … if owning the critters is legal.

Me? I’m a pretty unexciting pet owner. Two dogs and a cat suit me just fine. I’ll leave the wiggly-biters, or the squeezy-squigglers, for that matter, to others.

It’s not that I don’t like alligators or snakes, you see. OK. I’m lying. That’s exactly what it is.

Once, while rounding the corner of my local pet supply store (on a very poorly advertised “bring your reptile to the store” day), I came face to face with a massive man who seemed to be wearing a snake as a scarf.

There, right in the middle of the dog-leash aisle, I very nearly piddled myself. (Wouldn’t have been the first time a scared animal peed in that particular spot, I’d guess, but it still wasn’t the way I planned on spending my day).

And growing up, I knew a kid who had a baby alligator of his own, and who loved trying to get kids to stick their fingers in front of its mouth. (He didn’t get me to … bite … on that prank, thankfully).

All of which is offered up to get to this: If you’re in doubt as to whether you should purchase a certain kind of rare animal, ask a few of your most reasonable friends what they think. You know: The pal who’s least likely to run with scissors. Then, do yourself (and potentially the state’s habitat) a favor. Check the list.

Yes, there’s a list of unrestricted species that state wildlife officials welcome to the state, even without permits. You don’t have to guess. You don’t have to fear the knock at the door, meaning the state’s critter cops have found out about your hyena collection. You can find the list at

Hare today, gone tomorrow. In more somber news, the Maine Warden Service announced that they issued a number of summonses to a group of hunters who allegedly combined to shoot 87 snowshoe hares on an island 10 miles offshore.

Let me repeat that.

They reportedly shot 87 snowshoe hares in one day.

Not good.

Worse: Apparently, according to our BDN story, the hare-harvesting trip (to call it hunting would be an insult to hunters) has been going on for years.

The island is apparently overrun with hares, according to one of the men who was summonsed, who also described the activity as “more like culling [than hunting],” according to the BDN story.

Well enough. And it may even be that removing a lot of hares from the island might give some respite to the seabirds that nest there.

But it’s not up to the “hunters” to make the decision to reduce the hare population in any single area.

Instead, those kinds of decisions need to be made by state wildlife officials.

Finally, it’s radio time. On Sunday, I hope you tune in (and call in, if you feel inspired) when I’ll join Jim Thorne on the Maine Outdoors radio show in WVOM, 103.9 FM. The show begins at 7, and though my colleague Aislinn Sarnacki has been on vacation all this week, we’re hoping she’ll join in as well.

And if you want to stop by the Bangor Garden Show and say “Hi” to me and some of my co-workers, you can do so at the Cross Insurance Center. I’ll be handling some duties early Saturday afternoon, introducing speakers and the like, and I’d love to see you there.
John Holyoke can be reached at or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.