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For Release: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early June

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 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:

Rescue from an Overturned Boat at the Fire Island Inlet - Suffolk County

On Saturday, June 11, ECOs Kevin Holzle and Ron Gross were on boat patrol off the south shore of Long Island when a frantic "mayday" call came across their marine band radio reporting that a vessel had flipped over near the Fire Island Inlet and two people were thrown overboard, sustaining unknown injuries. The ECOs responded within minutes to the accident, joining the the U.S. Coast Guard on the scene. Both occupants of the boat had to be pulled from the water. One suffered a broken arm while the other sustained only minor injuries. The Coast Guard transported the victims to their station at Fire Island and the ECOs stayed with the overturned boat to keep onlookers away and prevent a second accident until it could be towed away.

Hamden Fish and Game Club 1st Annual Fishing Derby - Delaware County

On Saturday, June 11 the Hamden Hill Ridge Riders snowmobile club and the Hamden Fish and Game Club hosted their 1st annual fishing derby. ECOs helped more than 20 young fishermen enjoy the morning beside the pond with lines in the water and plenty of fish to be caught. The New York Conservation Officers Association (NYCOA), Gifford's Sporting Supplies in Walton and Stitch Witch in Delancey donated equipment, bait and prizes, aiding in the great success of this inaugural event.

ECO helping kid fish
Kid fishing

ECOs and Young Fishermen at the Hamden Fishing Derby

K-9 Demonstration - Otsego County

ECO and his K-9 running a demonstration
Sergeant Isles and K-9 Shamey

Lt. Tom Harrington, ECO Brett Armstrong, and Tech. Sgt. Keith Isles with K-9 Shamey attended a Youth Festival hosted by the Otego and Unadilla Rod and Gun Clubs on Saturday, June 11. Dozens of kids got a chance to fish and shoot pellet guns, bows, and crossbows. K-9 Shamey was a huge hit as the attendees learned about how the DEC's Division of Law Enforcement uses highly trained police dogs to conduct police work, find evidence and help solve wildlife crimes.

Fish Market Inspections - Queens County

On Sunday and Monday, June 12 and 13, ECOs Gates, Krueger and Auguscinski inspected several seafood markets in the Borough of Queens. As the ECOs entered one market, the manager began yelling to the employees, and the employees attempted to move bags of shellfish from behind the market counter and hide them. Three bags of clams and two bags of mussels found lying in standing waste water on the floor were confiscated and subsequently destroyed. ECO Gates measured lobsters for sale at the market and found 46 lobsters measuring less than the required 3 3/8" carapace length. The lobsters were seized and donated to the Bowery Mission homeless shelter. The market received summonses for the Possession of Undersized Lobsters, Possession of Untagged Shellfish and for Unlawful Commingling of Shellfish.

An inspection of another market resulted in the seizure of 37 additional undersized lobsters. Information obtained from the business owner lead the investigation to Brooklyn, where ECOs found more than 3,000 lobsters at a third business. The lobsters were measured and sorted with the help of Lt. Sean Reilly, and a total of 427 undersized lobsters were seized from that location. The lobsters were confiscated and brought to Bedstuy Campaign Against Hunger and the Salvation Army of Brooklyn.

ECO Measuring lobsters to determine legality
ECO Gates measuring lobsters
ECO Donating Lobsters to the Salvation Army
ECO Krueger donating lobsters to the Salvation Army

Another Illegal Dumping Arrest - Orange County

an Illegal dump site

On June 13, ECO Chris Lattimer and Lt. Michael Bello arrested a Vernon, New Jersey, resident after a two-month investigation into unlawful disposal of solid waste at various sites in Orange County. The defendant had approached six different farm property owners and offered to bring "free fill." During the course of his operation, the subject had brokered the delivery of approximately 20,000 cubic yards of non-exempt construction and demolition materials that were subsequently dumped at the six farms. ECO Lattimer worked closely with the Orange County District Attorney's Office throughout this investigation.

Honey Bee Swarm, Fort Edward, Washington County

Moving Honeybees!
Temporary hive with the swarm of honeybees inside

On Wednesday, June 15, ECO Stephen Gonyeau responded to a report of a large swarm of bees that had formed on a tree in a yard in Fort Edward. ECO Gonyeau quickly identified the swarm as honeybees and was aware that at this time of the year, hives often split due to overcrowding. A local bee keeper, retired Division of Law Enforcement Lt. Bob Henke, was contacted to collect the bees and provide a suitable home for them. The swarm was estimated to contain between 10,000 and 15,000 bees. The large swarm was placed in a temporary hive and left for the worker bees to return to. It was later removed after the bees had returned to the hive after dark.

The protection of pollinators is an ongoing priority for the State, and last week DEC, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and other partners release the final New York State Pollinator Protection Plan (link leaves DEC's website) outlining the steps needed to reverse the population declines of these important species.

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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