FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2008
Contact: Deborah Turcotte, IF&W, 287-5248
Don Cookson, Secretary of State’s office, 626-8404
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Provides Bureau of Motor Vehicles Investigators
to Assist Maine Warden Service with Snowmobile Enforcement Efforts
IF&W Commissioner Roland “Dan” Martin “welcomes the help to save lives.”
AUGUSTA – After a weekend that saw five snowmobile-related fatalities, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has offered the use of Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) investigators to help Maine Warden Service enforcement efforts on Maine’s snowmobile trails.
“When you see tragedies unfold as they did last weekend, you need to come up with ways to help,” Secretary Dunlap said. “We have an Investigations Division within BMV staffed by a group of talented law enforcement personnel. So I asked them if they’d be willing to lend a hand. It came as no surprise to me that they were all eager to assist in any way they could. After getting the blessings of both the members of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and IF&W Commissioner Roland “Dan” Martin, we’re able to move forward with this joint effort starting this weekend.”
Commissioner Martin said he welcomes Secretary Dunlap’s assistance because it is the right thing to do for the people of the State of Maine.
“We don’t want others to experience what five families went through last weekend with the deaths of their loved ones in snowmobile-related accidents,” said Commissioner Martin. “Snowmobile safety is the top priority of the Maine Warden Service for the remainder of the season and I welcome the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' help on the trails. This joint enforcement effort with Secretary of State Dunlap shows how state agencies can collaborate to save a life. We want people to have fun during these ideal winter conditions and we want them to make it home alive.”
The BMV investigators will be assisting Maine Game Wardens at several locations across the state, including checkpoints and road crossings frequented by snowmobile traffic, for the next three weekends starting Saturday.
The joint law enforcement effort is rare, having only been done at least once before, according to Major Gregory Sanborn, acting colonel of the Maine Warden Service.
“We’ve done interagency enforcement details before on ATV safety, so we already know how to best utilize the extra manpower,” Sanborn said. “We look forward to working with Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigators on the trails.”
Bob Meyers, President of the Maine Snowmobile Association, joined Secretary Dunlap and Commissioner Martin today and called upon the state’s 288 snowmobile clubs to help spread the message that dangerous riding behaviors won’t be tolerated. He also, praised Maine clubs for their ongoing work to enhance the rider safety through a variety of educational efforts.
The collaboration of the Maine Warden Service and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Investigation Division is another part of a stepped up law enforcement effort requested last weekend by Gov. John Baldacci because of his concern for the safety of snowmobilers. The five fatalities in less than 72 hours last weekend brings the total of snowmobile-related deaths to nine since Jan. 4.
On Monday, IF&W Commissioner Martin and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Anne H. Jordan announced their plans to increase the law enforcement presence of the Maine Warden Service on the state’s trails and the Maine State Police on the state’s roadways.
“Snowmobiling is a great outdoor activity, and it’s extremely important to Maine’s economy,” Secretary Dunlap said. “But we need to make sure people are enjoying this pastime in a safe and responsible manner. Just like when you’re behind the wheel of a car, excessive speed, alcohol and drug use, and failing to obey the rules of the road/trail can not and will not be tolerated.”