PLYMOUTH — Judging from the crowd that packed the Flying Monkey Movie House’s premiere of “North Woods Law,” the Animal Planet television series featuring Fish and Game conservation officers remains as popular as ever after completing its fourth season of filming in the Granite State.
Ben Miliotis, 4, of Franklin, turned some heads at Monday’s premiere, wearing an exact copy of a conservation officer’s uniform crafted in miniature by his mother, Sarah.
“I think we’ve seen all of the episodes. We started watching before it was filmed in New Hampshire. It’s very exciting to see places in the show that we’ve been to,” said the boy’s father, Peter.
Mark Beauchense, advertising and promotion coordinator for New Hampshire Fish and Game, said the department continues to receive emails from viewers worldwide who are wowed by the state’s natural beauty. A recent email came from a couple in Queensland, Australia who stream episodes of the show and said they will be making a trip to the state.
“In their emails people can’t believe how beautiful New Hampshire is. It makes you appreciate it all the more,” said Beauchense.
He said the partnership with producer Engel Entertainment has helped showcase the state and the many duties conservation officers are tasked with, ranging from rescuing wayward hikers to capturing injured animals and taking them to rehabilitation specialists.
“It delivers our message to a broad and diverse audience and opens their eyes to what the agency does, not just for hunters and anglers,” he said.
In a question-and-answer session prior to the screening, Heidi Murphy, the state’s first female conservation officer, told the audience her childhood dream was to become a speed-skater. Her interest in law enforcement was piqued when she secretly thumbed through crime scene photo books assembled by her state trooper father.
She studied biology in college and went on to teach before deciding to answer the call of the wild.
“I like the job. It changes every day. You can have a plan of what you want to accomplish and then you get a call that there is a moose in a well and you have to figure out how to get him out,” she said.
The job isn’t for the squeamish. Murphy recounted digging through “liquid bear” in search of a bullet that would prove the animal was shot illegally, and of being barred by her husband from entering her own house until she shed a uniform that reeked of an encounter with a skunk.
Conservation Officer Eric Hannett agreed the demands of the job are never the same.
“Some days I can’t believe they pay me to do this job. Other times I say they can’t pay me enough to do this job,” he said.
Conservation Officer Eric Fluette fielded questions about his K-9 partner. Moxie. He said his one wish is to be able to read the dog’s mind.
“It would be so much easier if she could just talk. We have a lot of conversations in my cruiser,” he said to laughter.
The Labrador retriever was donated to the department in 2017 through the non-profit Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire. Moxie is the second dog given to the department by Wes and Belinda Reed of Rise and Shine Retrievers in Barnstead.
Producer Steve Engel said the show is approaching its 150th episode and the goal is to show the breadth of what the officers do, and infuse a sense of empathy into the series by depicting that their relationship with the public is not adversarial.
Col. Kevin Jordan, who heads the law enforcement division of the agency, used the event as a recruiting tool. He told the many youngsters in the audience that getting good grades in school would put them in the running to become a conservation officer.
“I still don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s what we do every day,” he said of the show’s popularity.
Proceeds from the event were donated to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire, which helps fund education, conservation, wildlife and enforcement programs of NHFG.
“North Woods Law” can be seen on Animal Planet on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.