"North Woods Law" TV show heads from Maine to New Hampshire

AP News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2016 10:59 AM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The television show "North Woods Law" is moving slightly south.

After four years following the Maine Warden Service, the reality TV show's next season will feature conservation officers from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. It will begin airing early next year on the Animal Planet cable channel, a spokesman said Thursday.

A sneak peek video posted online by Animal Planet this week includes scenic views of forests, mountains and the seacoast along with wildlife ranging from raccoons to rattlesnakes.

"People are going to see animals they had no idea existed here," said Col. Kevin Jordan, the department's law enforcement chief.

He said the department's goal was recognition of the officers' complex duties, which include wildlife management, search and rescues and law enforcement.

"I didn't want to make another reality police show, you know, a cop show," he said. "We wanted to create a show that puts forth a positive view of the impact they have on natural resources, tourism and the state's economy. From looking at the episodes we have, it does do that."

The preview, however, does highlight the law enforcement angle.

"This is like the Wild West of New Hampshire," one officer says. Another says, "We're going to tighten things up right now," before closing handcuffs around a man's wrist.

Jordan said he was a bit concerned that the preview video was "over the top" but understands its purpose.

"People just need to keep in mind that the sneak peek was created to sell a product, and doesn't necessarily reflect as accurately as I would have hoped what the actual show will reflect," he said. "On occasion, the officers are going to make a case. But with some of these shows, doors are getting kicked and handcuffs going on everybody in view. That's not what we wanted and I'm really comfortable that we didn't get that."

The Maine version of "North Woods Law" stirred controversy after a Portland Press Herald report suggested the show's television cameras influenced the warden service's response to a poaching sting.

Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, said he played a role in ending the show, saying he didn't think it gave the state a good image.

A spokesman for the Warden Service said he viewed the agency's partnership with the show's producers as a public relations took to recruit wardens, and that once that goal was achieved, it decided to end the relationship.