Biology Major Scott Lindsay, State Wildlife biologist
Scott Lindsay, who majored in biology at UMF, is now a state wildlife biologist responsible for a wildlife management region that contains nearly a third of Maine's human population spread from Bethel to Brunswick to Kittery. His territory is also home to two dozen creatures under careful scrutiny from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, including the endangered piping plover shorebird and the nonvenomous black racer snake.
"It's one of the most productive and diverse areas in the state in terms of wildlife," Lindsay says. "But the way most people look at wildlife is either there's too little of it or too much."
Thus, Lindsay aims to preserve habitat, for all creatures great and small. Along the Maine coast, for instance, he works to support the piping plover, whose habitat just happens to be among the busiest parts of the state in summer: beaches. In cooperation with the Maine Audubon Society, he and his colleagues have worked with towns and private landowners to fence off shoreline nesting areas, keep dogs off beaches, and discourage thorough coastline clean up.
"The wrack line of different seaweeds brought up with each tide creates habitat for the birds to feed on insects and some invertebrates," he says. "A sanitized beach where everything is gone-what many people actually want to experience-is less attractive to plovers."
North of Lindsay's territory, a wildlife problem is proving more difficult to resolve. Lindsay tells of a mature black bear (one of an estimated 23,000 statewide) that enjoys feasting from a bird feeder in Livermore. Lindsay and his colleagues trapped and tagged the bear for relocation close to the Canadian border, only to see it come back for more.
"They have an incredible memory," he says of Maine black bear. "If they associate a high-quality food source with someone's house, they'll always return."
Lindsay also works to expand direct land acquisitions in southern Maine, where most land is in private hands. To determine how development might impact wildlife, he conducts site reviews for Maine's Department of Environmental Protection, investigating the appearance of endangered species on the proposed construction site, or how a new building and vehicle traffic could disrupt reptilian corridors.
"It isn't feasible to say you can't have any development," says Lindsay, who helps in performing some 500 site reviews annually for the Maine DEP. "Just not in places where it threatens critical habitat."
With hours driven by creatures both diurnal and nocturnal, he rarely sees downtime. But Lindsay says he relishes his "jack-of-all-trades" role for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
"I enjoy being in a position where you can actually have an impact on the health of wildlife species and policy that determines the health of those species," he says. "And I like making sure that habitat is there for species and the public."