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For Release: Wednesday, June 15, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late May

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2015, the 268 ECOs based across the state responded to 25,000 calls and issued 22,000 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping to illegal mining, black market pet trade and excessive emissions violations.

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs who patrol our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They labor through long and arduous hours, often deep in our remote wildernesses or in the tight confines of our urban landscapes, and without much public fanfare. But their work centers around the most important things we do at the DEC."

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Monkey Business - Suffolk County
On May 21, ECO Ron Gross received a call from Suffolk County SPCA about a monkey being illegally kept in a house in Brentwood. ECO Gross accompanied SPCA to the house, where the owner claimed to only have four dogs and a bird. The owner agreed to allow ECO Gross and SPCA officers to enter the house to inspect further. Once inside, the officers could hear a lot of chattering that the owner blamed on the bird, but the officers suspected it could be something else. The homeowner kept trying to keep the officers attention on the dogs whenever they asked about the bird. When ECO Gross finally asked the owner to bring them to the back room where the bird was kept, he responded by lowering his head and stating, "It's not a bird." The owner led them to the room where he was keeping a white-headed capuchin monkey. ECO Gross, with help from the SPCA, seized the monkey and charged the owner with Illegal possession of wildlife, since he did not have a permit to possess the animal. The monkey was taken to a licensed facility with a larger enclosure and better living conditions.

Injured Bald Eagle - Columbia County
On May 26, ECO James Davey was notified of an injured bald eagle near Rossman Falls in the town of Stuyvesant. The officer responded immediately and was able to capture and safely restrain the bird, which was determined to have a broken wing. The injured raptor was transported to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, where it is currently recovering.

Bass Fishing Before the Season Opens - Orange County
On May 28, ECO Chris Lattimer was observing fishermen at Highland Lakes State Park when he noticed three people fishing in close proximity along the shoreline. The first two were a father and son who had their licenses and claimed to not have any fish. ECO Lattimer quickly checked the area and saw no fish, so he moved along to the last fisherman. That man had a fishing license but was in possession of three largemouth bass. The season for black bass doesn't open until June 18. ECO Lattimer walked the fisherman out to his car and began writing him a ticket when the man stated that the other group had multiple bass on a stringer out in the water as well. After issuing the first ticket for taking bass during the closed season, ECO Lattimer walked back to take a closer look at the other two fishermen. They were walking back to the parking area by then and, as ECO Lattimer approached them, one man threw a bag into the woods. The bag contained six out-of-season largemouth bass. These fishermen were also issued tickets for taking bass during the closed season. All of the tickets are pending in Wallkill Town Court.

Theft of Wild Flowers leads to a Ticket - Albany County
On May 28, a concerned caller reported to DEC ENCON Police Dispatch that an individual was digging up wild blue lupine plants in the Albany Pine Bush. Blue Lupine is one of the many wildflowers native to the Pine Bush, a sensitive ecosystem that is being carefully restored. Blue lupine is also critical to the reproduction of the Karner Blue Butterfly, an endangered species that is found in the Pine Bush during mid-May through mid-June. The butterfly lays eggs on and feeds on wild blue lupines. The caller had been observant enough to obtain the license plate number of the subject's car and provided it to the dispatcher. ECO Kurt Swan responded to the call and was able to locate the suspect at his residence. The man admitted to taking the plants and returned them to ECO Swan. Swan issued the man a ticket for the illegal removal of plants from the Pine Bush, and the plants were returned to the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center to be replanted.

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

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