3 Arrested for Poaching Fiddleheads in Fort Fairfield

Fort Fairfield, Maine (AP) – Fort Fairfield Police with backup from the Maine State Police, U.S. Border Patrol and Maine Warden Service arrested three individuals Saturday afternoon on the South Caribou road in Fort Fairfield. No names have been released.

An anonymous tip led Fort Fairfield police to 3 individuals harvesting young fiddleheads out of season on the banks of the Aroostook River around 4pm. “We weren’t expecting any problems with this so early in the season,” said Fort Fairfield patrol office Jim Simmons. “The snow is still so deep which provides sprouting fiddleheads some protection from being harvested out of season.” The individuals had to dig through almost three feet of solid packed snow to reach the sprouting plants. When apprehended, they had filled almost three 5 gallon coolers with the green delicacies.

A cooler of illegally harvested fiddleheads

The young plants were estimated to have a street value in New York of almost $5,000. Officer Simmons says the confiscated plants will be donated to local food pantries.

Law enforcement officers pile confiscated fiddleheads near a building on the South Caribou Rd. in Fort Fairfield

In Aroostook County, fiddlehead season runs from April 25th to May 25th explains Fiddlehead Warden Lucas Green of the Maine Warden Service. While no permits are required to pick them, out of season poaching has become an increasing problem with each passing year. “As word spreads and popularity of the plants grow we have more people trying to make a quick buck from them”, says Green. “Picking the plants too early hurts the sustainability of the species. We encourage everyone to harvest fiddleheads in season only.” Harvesting fiddleheads out of season carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $10,000 fine.

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