When I began working at the Bangor Daily News more than a quarter of a century ago, our circulation area consisted of a pretty well-defined piece of the Pine Tree State. Our readers typically lived from somewhere north of Waterville to somewhere south of Edmundston, New Brunswick, and our footprint stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the border with Quebec in the west.
And the only way people could read our stories was if they physically picked up a newspaper, opened it, and perused the pages.
Things are a lot different these days. It’s not a stretch to say that the BDN now has readers around the globe who can check out the exact same product — our website — whether they’re in Australia or Augusta, Winslow or Wisconsin.
Today, I’m particularly pleased to add Wisconsin to that list, not as a theoretical place a BDN reader might live, but as a place where one of our most recent contributors calls home. More on that in a minute.
First, a few weeks back, we unveiled what I thought might be popular, but was confident would turn out to be a super-fun project: We asked readers to share their trail camera photos and videos with us, so that we could show them off and generate some discussion.
As you may have noticed, we often ask our readers to pitch in on stories that we’re developing. It’s a way for us to engage with you, and to coax you into becoming a valuable source that your fellow readers can learn something from. In a couple of popular stories, we’ve asked you to share your mountain lion stories, and have sought opinions on whether Mainers should ask for permission before hunting on land they don’t own.
We’ve found that in most cases, the stories that generate the most reader input are those that are divisive. While everyone says they want to read good-news stories, the pieces that readers typically respond to most fervently are those that are controversial, not those that put a smile on one’s face.
As it turns out, asking readers to share their trail camera photos has given me a reason to smile every single morning since we began seeking submissions. At first, I thought we might get a handful of responses, and that we might be able to entertain readers with those photos and videos for a week (if I was patient and only used one photo per day).
Instead, readers have jumped onboard during this project, and continue to send in their own trail cam images. As of this morning, I’ve received more than 100 images and videos from more than 30 different readers. More arrive in my email inbox every day, and I’m continually surprised by what I find.
This latest contribution comes from Mary Dicken, who lives in Vilas County, Wisconsin.
See? There was a reason I mentioned the state by name a few minutes ago. Thanks for sticking around for the punchline.
Mary said a friend sent her a message about what the BDN was up to, knowing that Mary’s photos would find a good home here. The photos clearly showed a couple of bald eagles, but I reached out to Mary to learn what was going on. Were all of the birds bald eagles? Why were they all grouped together?
“Basically these are all eagles — bald eagles and juvenile eagles,” Mary said. “They are ‘fighting’ over a deer carcass, which we have a lot of in the North Woods [of Wisconsin]. The first pic has five eagles in it — one [is] up in the tree, right side, patiently waiting his turn. The next pic is two eagles fighting over their claimed area, I guess.”
Mary said she has a lot of different species visiting, and is happy to see what shows up on the cameras.
“These game camera shots are from last year. We have game cams set up all over because of deer mostly, but have gotten shots of wolf, coyotes, a bobcat and lots of other wildlife,” Mary said. “I live in northern Wisconsin and this happens on our property every year. I have been seeing various wildlife at my home for over 20 years now, just sharing pictures that I feel are awesome [from] a game camera.”
Thanks, Mary. And thanks to all the BDN readers, wherever they may live, for their continued submissions.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, is published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.