MOUNT HOLLY — Timothy Carey knew what he wanted to do for a career the day he job-shadowed his local game warden, a day that featured traveling to Manchester, New Hampshire, to check on someone’s pet alligator.
“I figured out then and there that’s what I wanted to do,” Carey said Thursday in an interview.
On Tuesday, at a ceremony in Montpelier, Carey was recognized by Gov. Phil Scott as Vermont’s Warden of the Year.
Since 2013, Carey has patrolled the Mount Holly area, covering the towns of Clarendon, Wallingford, Mount Holly, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Plymouth, Mount Tabor, Weston, Andover, Peru, Londonderry, Winhall and Windham. A native of Hooksett, New Hampshire, Carey said he was happy to be assigned that area, as his grandfather lived in Ludlow.
Carey said he remembers the alligator as having been 10 feet long, living in a children’s pool inside a man’s apartment. He thinks the person had applied for a permit to keep the creature as a pet and the warden’s visit was part of that.
“I don’t know if he ever got his permit or not,” said Carey.
Carey was told that Unity College in Maine was where many future wardens got their education, so that’s where he went to school. While he was in college, he happened to speak with Col. Jason Batchelder, the head of Vermont’s game wardens, who told him about what being a warden was like in the Green Mountain State. Carey liked what he heard, and after working for a bit in the National Park Service, he applied to be a warden here.
Being a warden requires one to graduate from Vermont Police Academy and complete eight months of field training. Carey said he was hired along with three others. He feels lucky he gets to cover the Mount Holly area.
“If you ask me, there’s no bad place to cover, I’d do it anywhere in Vermont,” he said, noting that his beat is fairly diverse in terms of environments.
Variety is what attracts many to the job, he said, adding that it’s hard to recall any one incident or call as being more memorable than any others. There was one call he does remember, however.
Carey said, in 2018, in Shrewsbury, a woman contacted him saying her husband had gone ruffed grouse hunting that morning and hadn’t called her, nor returned home by nightfall. Carey said the hunter had given his wife a fairly good idea of where he’d be, so Carey went there and ran his siren. He listened, then heard a whistle. Carey found the hunter with a severely broken leg. The man had injured himself 12 hours before and had been unable to leave the woods on his own. Other rescue personnel arrived and got him out.
Carey said it felt good to help someone stuck in that sort of situation.
According to a statement from the Department of Fish & Wildlife, Carey has given CPR to a mountain biker who suffered a heart attack and has been involved in numerous search-and-rescue operations, including one for a crashed airplane.
“I love what I do,” said Carey.
“I want to thank Timothy for his outstanding performance in protecting Vermont’s fish and wildlife resources and serving the people of Vermont,” said Scott in his statement.“Warden Carey was chosen for his integrity, professionalism and high motivation in all of his work duties, and he has earned respect from other wardens and the public.”
“Senior Warden Carey is a consummate professional who effectively enforces hunting, fishing and trapping laws,” said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter, in a release. “and in 2018 he responded to more than 217 incidents and made 21 arrests. He displays a keen sense of judgment, treating all people fairly and with dignity, regardless of the situation.”
According to the department, Shikar-Safari Club International sponsors a “warden of the year” award in each state and Canadian province.