The Maine Warden Service K9 team travels throughout Maine and across the state’s borders to bring missing persons to safety and to protect our natural resources through evidence collection. The specialized team is made up of six dedicated game wardens and their K9s which are trained in the following areas:
- Tracking — Following the trail of a person by using that person's individual scent
- Evidence — Location of items containing human scent, gun powder residue, or any other trained scent that may be used to solve a fish and game case
- Hasty air scent search — Using the air/wind to follow human scent and locate injured and lost people along natural barriers such as trails, wood lines, ditches, streams, and roads
- Human Remains — Detecting human remains when a search has been ongoing for a period of time at which the person is probably deceased
Meet the Team
Handlers work side by side with their trusted K9s. When the K9s are not working, you can find them doing normal dog things, like chasing balls, swimming, or looking for treats. K9s live in their handler’s homes and are part of their family, even after they retire.
Warden since 2012, K9 Handler since 2016
Breezy will do anything for a ball (or anything she can retrieve) and would run all day long if Lucas let her. Read more
Warden since 1997, K9 Handler since 2004
K9 Yaro is a very playful and eager to please German shepherd. Read more
Warden since 2017, K9 Handler since 2020
K9 Luna, a black Labrador retriever, is focused and always ready for the next challenge and looking forward to her next reward. Read more
Warden since 2006, K9 Handler since 2020
K9 Gordon is named in honor of Maine Game Warden Pilot Daryl R. Gordon who died in the line of duty in northern Aroostook County in 2011. Read more
To get their initial certification with the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Maine Warden Service K9s complete a 14-week intensive training program and pass initial certification tests. To maintain their certification, they are required to train for a minimum of 24 hours every quarter under the direct supervision of a certified trainer and pass an annual re-certification field test.
Handlers often work on training daily on their own to balance and strengthen the multiple disciplines their K9s are trained in. The Maine Warden Service K9 unit typically trains as a group at least two to three times a month. The unit also trains in conjunction with the Maine State Police to work specifically on Human Remains detection at a minimum of once a month.
Once initial training and certification have taken place much of the ongoing training focuses on maintaining proficiency and building skill sets. Scenario-based trainings are used to replicate new challenges that may have occurred on an actual search.
On the Blog
Air scent searches are used to search large areas or if the last known point of the missing person isn’t exact.
A missing person could be anywhere, so the K9s must be ready to track on just about any surface.
You may be wondering, why would a K9 need to be able to find a metal washer?
The past few months have been unusual to say the least. Restrictions due to COVID-19 has made some aspects of training difficult and quite different.
It is imperative we find the best candidates to serve as Maine game wardens, and that remains true when it comes to selecting dogs for the Maine Warden Service K9 Unit.