In an effort to combine two of his passions, dentistry and hunting, Dr. Daniel Figueiredo will be donating a portion of money from new patient dental exams at his new dental studio to Maine Operation Game Thief, an organization that has helped to stop illegal hunting and fishing for more than 20 years. Courtesy / Daniel Figueiredo

PORTLAND — Good oral hygiene is not the only thing Daniel Figueiredo will help preserve when he begins accepting patients at his new Marginal Way dental center next month. He will also be protecting Maine’s game animals.

Figueirdeo will donate a portion of the proceeds from each new patient dental exam to Maine Operation Game Thief, a volunteer-run organization that has been helping to stop illegal hunting and fishing since 1989.

“I really wanted this office to be a way … to combine my practice in the industry I have been working in for years with something I was passionate about,” said Figueiredo, a dentist since 2012.

Figueiredo said he doesn’t have concerns about opening his clinic amidst the public health pandemic.

“As dental professionals we have always practiced universal precautions against blood and airborne pathogens. We have however taken extra precautions with respect to increased (personal protective equipment) for the time being. Therefore I am confident that we can provide excellent and safe dental care with minimal risk of transmission of any pathogen including COVID-19,” he said.

Figueiredo wants Thrive Dental Studio to be more than just a dental clinic for regular cleanings, x-rays and restorative and cosmetic dentistry.

“This is rather unique,” he said of his dental office, which is he hopes to open at 191 Marginal Way by the end of September. “I’ve not seen other dental practices partner with organizations or causes they are passionate about. I hope to support other organizations as we go.”

Figueiredo, a Freeport resident, began fishing at a young age growing up in New Jersey, but didn’t take to hunting until later. After moving to Maine in 2012 following graduation from Tufts Dental School, Figueiredo became involved with the Scarborough Fish and Game Association, where he shoots trap and sporting clays competitively. He learned Maine Operation Game Thief, which pays the public for anonymous tips about illegal hunting and fishing and passes that information to law enforcement.

“Maine Operation Game Thief have been instrumental in preventing wildlife crime and an easy choice for our practice to support,” he said.

Greg Sirpis, chairman of Maine Operation Game Thief, said Figueiredo is “an avid outdoorsman and I’m thrilled to have him as a strategic partner.”

“It has been a difficult year. It has been for everybody,” said Sirpis, a Standish resident. “We have not been able to hold any fundraisers at all. We are a 501(c)(3) organization and all volunteers, so for someone to step up like Dan did is a big deal for us right now.”

Maine Operation Game Thief helps the Maine Warden Service and Maine Marine Patrol monitor the state, Sirpis said. It is impossible for the 105 game wardens and the Marine Patrol to keep tabs on everything happening in the state, he said.

“That is why we ask the public to be our eyes and ears. We make a concerted effort to catch what is happening out there, but the problem is the tips we receive is a small percentage of what is actually happening,” he said.

Last year, Sirpis said, 50,000 deer were brought to inspection stations and legally tagged and inspected. There are estimates that another 50,000 were illegally taken.

“If we don’t have accurate numbers, there is no way we can manage the wildlife population properly,” Sirpis said.

A committed deer and turkey bowhunter, Figueiredo said his favorite place to hunt is around Brunswick and Durham.

Although he enjoys the challenge that comes with hunting, that’s not his favorite thing about it.

“Being out there and watching nature is the most important thing for me. I have let a lot of animals pass,” he said.

While he is a relative newcomer to hunting, dentistry has been an interest of Figueiredo’s for years.

He first thought of a career in dentistry at 10 years old when his dentist asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up and suggesting he consider dentistry, he said.

“That planted a little seed in my head and by the end of high school I was committed to dentistry,” said Figueiredo, who previously worked at Apsen Dental in Auburn and will be wrapping up work at Twin Rivers Family Dentistry in Lisbon as he opens his Portland clinic.

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