Finally, New Hampshire, there’s something to look forward to in 2020.
“North Woods Law” is back.
The show, which has attracted a cult-like following in the Granite State and far beyond, features the everyday adventures of those who work for the state Fish and Game Department. The series, which returns to Animal Planet at 9 p.m. Sunday, has made unlikely TV stars out of mild-mannered conservation officers and their faithful “conservation canines.”
The show also highlights New Hampshire’s natural beauty, abundant wildlife and wealth of outdoor activities.
Harrowing rescues, a terrifying ATV crash involving one of the agency’s own, and an adorable chocolate lab puppy in training — there’s a lot going on this season on the show, according to Col. Kevin Jordan, chief of law enforcement for Fish and Game. Jordan is involved in the editing of segments that will end up on the series.
A TV crew was on hand June 13 when Conservation Officer Matt Holmes was struck by a speeding off-road vehicle in Dummer during a speed enforcement detail, Jordan said. Holmes sustained broken ribs, cuts and bruises, but credits his helmet and bulletproof vest for sparing him more serious injuries that day.
The vehicle that hit Holmes, Jordan said, was going 65 miles per hour. “That could have killed him for sure,” he said. “Being hit by a UTV is equivalent to being hit by a compact car.”
Thankfully, he said, Holmes is “fully recovered and back to work.”
One of the highlights of the new season, Jordan said, is an episode featuring Fin, the newest member of the department’s K-9 corps. Born in July, the chocolate lab is the partner of C.O. Ken St. Pierre.
And of course, there are plenty of crowd-favorite segments featuring wildlife, Jordan said, including a moose on the loose in Nashua.
The new season reflects the increased interest in outdoor activities that accompanied the pandemic, Jordan said. But there was no mention of COVID-19 in the final edits; the show’s producers wanted to keep them timeless so they can be replayed in future seasons, he said.
When protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis led to the cancellation of some TV shows featuring law enforcement officers on the beat, Jordan said he worried that “North Woods Law” would be affected as well. He said he understands the negative reaction.
“It’s our own fault,” he said. “The world of law enforcement needs to change.”
Sure enough, Jordan got a call from the company that produces the show. But the producers assured him that “North Woods Law” is different. “The compassion the guys show, the fairness, the sense of humor, all of that plays into it,” he said.
Jordan said he thinks a combination of factors have made the show popular among viewers young and old. For one thing, he said, “They see us working pretty hard to protect animals, even though there’s some hunting and fishing going on.”
And his conservation officers “don’t put up a false front” when the cameras are rolling, he said. “What you see is what you get.”
Jordan said the show has been hugely beneficial for his department, raising public awareness about conservation issues, bringing in much-needed donations — Fish and Game receives no funding in the state budget — and helping lawmakers better understand the work its officers do. It’s also good for the state’s tourism industry, he said.
The chief has gotten letters and emails from all over the country, he said. “I answer every single one. They took the time to write, the least you can do is write them back.”
Just last week, Jordan said, a family visiting the Lakes Region from Texas called his office. “The single reason they came here was they watched New Hampshire on ‘North Woods Law’ and wanted to see the state,” he said.
He gave the family a tour of Fish and Game headquarters and some T-shirts.
After the ordeal the state and nation have endured in 2020, Jordan said, a lot of folks are eager for what “North Woods Law” has to offer.
“It’s got a sense of humor in the middle of a year where we didn’t see a lot of that,” he said.