Tag Archives: Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

Moosehorn Hooks in Veterans

The sun shined bright for veterans on Tuesday, June 12th as family, friends, and fish gathered to celebrate the Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine. Service volunteers joined forces with the Maine Veterans’ Home, the Cobscook Bay State Park, the Maine Warden Service and the Friends of Moosehorn to provide a day’s worth of fishing and recreation.


Friends and family spend the day fishing with U.S. Veterans at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine, for the Service’s Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day.

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 30,000 acres of federally protected lands in eastern Maine including rolling hills, large ledge outcrops, streams, lakes, bogs, and marshes. Peggy Sawyer, Moosehorn Administrative Assistant and Annual Veterans Fishing Day volunteer confidently commented, “Lesson learned: sun shining on the water, a fishing rod and a hungry fish can soothe a troubled spirit and make a heart smile.”


A U.S. Veteran sits by a toddler whom is fishing at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge (NWF) for the Annual Veteran’s Fishing Day.

Sawyer, though not a fan of recreational fishing or freshwater fish in general, expressed that, “The simple pleasure of reeling in a fish and the anticipation of fresh trout for supper lit their faces with smiles. I even heard a few belly laughs! Whether they came to fish, or just to get some fresh air and feel the sun, they made new memories however fleeting.”


A young man and a U.S. Navy Seal Veteran bait a hook to fish at the Refuge.

Volunteers, family, and friends gathered worms, baited hooks, and casted lines for the men and women who are now veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Refuge manager Keith Ramos commented, “Getting to spend a day with men and women who served our country is a great honor and privilege.”


Joe McBrine, Maine Game Warden, smiles, holding a fish in hand, kneeling beside a giddy senior whom is fishing at the Refuge.

USFWS volunteer Tabitha Ramos commented, “Many of these men and women had not been able to fish in years. One gentleman said the last time he picked up a pole was 60 years ago. Many haven’t fished due to access and mobility, so together USFWS and the State made it possible for them to fish for the day.”

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit the USFWS Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge home page for more information. If you’re interested in getting involved, the ‘Get Involved’ page is available to learn ways in which you can help now.



Nature Prevails

Is a rescue mission a success if there isn’t any rescue? For two weeks, a bald eagle with two of its toes caught in a foothold trap has eluded capture.

When the eagle was spotted flying around Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge with the trap in late April by Refuge Manager Keith Ramos, he and his staff launched a rescue attempt that would grow to involve tree climbers, a utility company, a buffet of carcasses as eagle lure, and even an industrial strength magnet. They were intent on freeing the bird, one of a pair nesting along the road at this remote refuge in the far eastern reaches of Maine. If they could catch the bird, it could be attended to by a wildlife veterinarian if necessary.

The eagle could still “fly powerfully,” said Ray Brown, refuge biologist, who spent many a cold hour hunkered in a portable blind watching and waiting for the bird to land where it could be caught. Spring thaw happens late in that neck of the woods and daytime temps hovered in the 30s.

On the second morning of the search, rescuers were dismayed to find the eagle hanging upside down in a tall white pine tangled by the trap around a branch. She wasn’t moving and was presumed dead. Intent on salvaging the bird, the rescue team – expanded to include biologists from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife – brought in a telescoping ladder and climbing equipment by canoe to reach the tree.

As they got closer, spirits lifted when the eagle moved. When a local climber, with assistance from refuge law enforcement officer Amanda Hardaswick, got within an arm’s length of the powerful animal, it broke free and flew away.

Nearly two weeks later, the chase is still on.

The eagle is presumed to be the female in the nesting pair because of her size and recognizable red and silver leg bands. For a number of days she continued to return to her mate, but continued to elude capture. The rescuers turned their ingenuity into higher gear.

  • When the eagle got tangled again on a nearby osprey nest platform, they called on the local power company, Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative. With a bucket truck and a net, they were optimistic, but she flew away again.
  • When the eagle appeared to be tangled in a hardwood tree, professional tree climbers from the Biodiversity Research Institute were called in, but the eagle escaped once again.
  • Traps were laid, baited with a deer carcass, dead fish, and even a goose, but no luck luring her to the ground where Ray was ready in the blind to deploy a rocket net.
  • An 80-pound industrial strength magnet was covered with deer hair in the hope that it would hold the trap, and the eagle, long enough to capture her.

No luck.

The eagle hadn’t been seen for a week, and a new female took up residence in the nest. Brown feathers in the newcomer’s tail were telltale signs that she is a younger bird. It began to seem unlikely that the trapped bird had survived.

Turns out she’s a survivor. The eagle reappeared this week, dirty and disheveled, but with no trap! The extent of injury to her toes remains to be seen, however she appears healthy considering her ordeal. Her first order of business? Kicking that newcomer out of the nest.

We want to mention that leg hold traps are used by trappers during regulated trapping seasons in Maine and just across the border in Canada. If the trap is retrieved, law enforcement officers may know more about its source to pursue that part of the eagle’s story.

Keith and his staff would like to thank the many individuals and organizations who have helped rescue the eagle including

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Charlie Todd, Erynn Call, Tom Schaeffer, Henry Jones, and Brittany Currier
Biodiversity Research Institute, Bill Hanson and Chris Persico
-Mark McCullough, USFWS
Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative
Cianbro Corporation
City of Calais Public Works and Fire Department
Avian Haven

Birds, bats and burns: All in a day’s play at Camp Sepawonuk

With the cold weather creeping into the northeast, we thought we would take a moment to reflect back on the warm, sunny and playful days of going to summer camp. Our staff in the field often partner with Native American Tribes on wildlife biology and conservation projects. The partnership we highlight today is one that is also critical to the work we do as an agency: connecting young people to nature. Read how a group of Passamaquaddy youth are learning and growing with the help of experts in the field of wildlife conservation.


Summer camp is a ritual, a rite of passage, for many kids growing up today. Exploring the outdoors, getting dirty and spending time with friends is a big part of what draws kids to wanting to go back each year. And the same holds true for Passamaquoddy  middle school students from Pleasant Point and Indian Township, Maine, who attended Camp Sepawonuk this past summer as part of an outdoor education partnership among Maine Indian Education, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge biologist Mike ? works with campers on forestry management.

Refuge forester Mike Heath teaches campers about forest succession and management. Photo credit: Maine Indian Education Program.

Camp Sepawonuk (the Passamaquoddy word for tomorrow) is a summer workshop that focuses on natural resource and outdoor education programs, and introduces 6th through 8th grade students to a variety of conservation topics and natural resource careers. Staff from both Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge and MIT teach the students about microbiology,  forest succession, the science behind prescribed burns, fighting wildfires, American woodcock biology and the impact of white-nose syndrome on Maine’s bat populations.



Campers learn and practice archery skills as part of the camp curriculum. Photo credit: Maine Indian Education Program.

This past summer marked the second year the camp was held at the refuge and surrounding natural areas of eastern Maine. When asked what they liked best about the camp two students from Pleasant Point said they loved exploring the outdoors and working with staff and students from MIT. The campers enjoyed taking trips to Sand Dollar Beach on First Island and to Eastport, Maine, where they saw and touched jellyfish. Participating in hands-on learning experiences in nature is a big draw for most of the students. Another favorite activity for many campers was learning how to use archery equipment.


Bat Talk

Refuge biologist Ray Brown talks to students about bat populations and white-nose syndrome. Photo credit: Maine Indian Education Program.

Students enjoy the week-long camp experience, and refuge and MIT staff love getting to share their passion for the outdoors and knowledge about the natural world. It is a win- win for everyone involved in the program.

Erin Guire is a classroom teacher at the Beatrice Rafferty School in Maine. She is a leader in planning and coordinating many aspects of Camp Sepawonuk.

Erin Guire is a classroom teacher at the Beatrice Rafferty School in Maine. She is a leader in planning and coordinating many aspects of Camp Sepawonuk.

The program is made possible by the generous support of the Trust in Diversity and Exchange Foundation, as well as the time and expertise of staff and students from the refuge and MIT.

Plans are in the works for next year’s camp session, with a number of students eagerly awaiting the days until they can spend time outside learning and exploring.

Read more stories about Camp Sepawonuk, 2014 and 2015