Authorities combing the rugged wilds of upstate New York for a pair of killers who escaped a maximum security prison two weeks ago are turning to those who know the terrain best, asking hunters to help in the search.
Richard Matt and David Sweat cut their way out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6. They’ve eluded a massive manhunt since then and authorities admitted Friday it’s “entirely possible” the search could take months. They said their plan is to pursue the two men “relentlessly” while turning to hunters for assistance.
“We’re asking them to review video from wildlife or trail cameras to see if they see anything suspicious,” State Police Maj. Charles Guess said at a press conference at the prison.
“We’re asking them to review video from wildlife or trail cameras to see if they see anything suspicious.”
- State Police Maj. Charles Guess
Hunters say they are ready to help even if it isn't hunting season and they still haven't turned their trail cams on to track deer.
“If I was able to get some pictures and help state police get these guys, that would be great,” avid outdoorsman Jason Langdon, 38, told FoxNews.com Friday. “I think a lot of people feel that way because this has been so unsettling.”
Langdon, a former Navy police officer, lives between Dannemora and Dickinson Center, the hamlet that is home to prison supervisor Joyce Mitchell, the woman accused of helping Matt and Sweat escape.
He has kept his trail cams on unlike some of his fellow hunters who generally wait until the fall hunting season begins to do so.
State police said Friday they have searched 600 miles of trails leading out of Dannemora, but Langdon said the wooded area is so vast, searchers still have a lot of work to do.
“The Adirondack Park runs from the Canadian border to Albany and it’s 6.1 million acres of forever wild,” he said. “The mountains are many, 49 peaks and a couple of hundred foothills. They range from 2,000 feet to White Face up there about 5,000 feet. Everything at the bottom of it is swamp and thick, dense brush.”
He said snowmobilers use the old abandoned railroad beds that run for miles without ever coming near a road.
“You can cut through the heart of the Adirondacks from Plattsburgh to Utica or from Utica to Old Forge,” Langdon, an electrical contractor, said.
He said right now the woods are lush green, providing easy cover. There are berries and vegetation everywhere and if Matt and Sweat have any survival skills they could last for a while.
“These guys don’t strike me that way, but I don’t know what kind of book they got ahold of,” he said.
Langdon has been keeping abreast of the search on his Facebook page, Northern Adirondack Outdoorsman’s Page.
“Rainy day, going to go check my trail cams and see if I have any Bucks, Bears, or 2 men in $100,000 green suits running around,” he wrote on the third day of the search.
Langdon told FoxNews.com he has been checking his trail cams regularly. He has 50 acres of property, with 10 trails running through.
“I want to know what’s on my property,” he said. “They could be here. They could be anywhere.”
Langdon said he and other hunters have heeded the advice of Guess and others not to get personally involved in the search.
Dan Ladd, another outdoorsman and a freelance outdoor columnist, said having hunters check their trail cams was a good idea. But he said he doesn't turn his cameras on until August.
"If this was September, you would have a lot more," he told FoxNews.com.
Ladd said this time of year pesky black flies and mosquitos are a big problem in the Adirondacks, and speculated Sweat and Matt must have found a shelter, if only to get away from the insects.
"I've basically said that other than the winter, this is probably one of the worst times facing the elements," he said.
Peter Visconti, president of the Plattsburgh Rod and Gun Club, agreed that authorities have a lot of woods to search.
"It would be a very big task for them to search," he told FoxNews.com.
At the press conference Friday, Guess said police have already collected a lot of surveillance footage.
“As you can imagine, some of it is grainy,” the major said. “We’ve sent off to both our lab and to the FBI for analysis, but I cannot confirm or deny any useful information gleaned from that footage.”
At the press conference, prison officials said that damage made to cells, steam tunnels, steam pipe and a manhole cover during the escape has been repaired.
The press conference was held a day after the U.S. Marshals added the two escapees to its Most Wanted List.