Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late July and Early August

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:

Unpermitted Shellfish Dealer - Kings County

On July 29, ECOs Jeffrey Krueger and Paul Pasciak were conducting seafood inspections in Brooklyn. During their inspections they came across a lobster wholesaler that was in possession of 107 American lobsters with carapace lengths less than 3 3/8 inches, which are prohibited in New York State. ECO Krueger questioned a man who at first identified himself as the warehouse manager. Eventually, the man stated that there are two corporations based out of that warehouse. ECO Krueger then asked to see invoices of the two corporations. After examination of the paperwork ECO Krueger quickly identified one of corporations as a shipper of undersize lobster in another case which he had worked on with ECO John Gates. Also, only one of the corporations held a valid food fish and crustacean shipper/dealer permit. The unpermitted business had been allegedly using the other corporation's permit to ship lobsters. As a result of the inspection the individuals and corporation were issued summonses in Kings County Court. ECO's Krueger and Pasciak donated the seized undersized lobsters to the Bowery Mission in New York County.

Illegal Burning of Trash - Fulton County

On the morning on July 30, ECO Matthew Clemens received a complaint of an illegal burning in progress in the Town of Ephratah. The complainant stated the fire was still smoking and smelled like garbage. ECO Clemens responded to the scene and located a large metal container full of garbage, metals and plastics that had been burned hours earlier and was still smoldering. ECO Clemens issued the property owner a ticket for the Unlawful Burning of Rubbish, returnable in the Town of Ephratah Court.

Large burn container with reminants of illegally burned garbage
Large burn container with the remnants of
illegally burned garbage, metal and plastic

Basket Full of Porgy - Kings County

On July 31, ECO Kevin Cummings was forwarded a tip that anglers were keeping undersize porgy (scup) on the Shore Parkway that runs along the Belt Parkway Highway in Brooklyn. ECO Cummings patrolled the area and, while checking fisherman, saw a moped with a basket containing a number of undersized porgy. The owner of the moped admitted that he had caught all 16 of the fish in the basket, all of them less than the legal size limit. The angler was issued a summons for the violation. ECO Cummings also explained to the angler how to download the Pocket Ranger App so that he would know what size fish he could keep in the future.

ECO with undersized porgy
ECO Kevin Cummings with undersized porgy
pile of undersized porgy

Rescued Owl - Livingston County

On August 1, Livingston County 911 contacted the Region 8 office to report that a Deputy had found an injured owl on State Route 256 in the town of West Sparta. Lt. William Powell responded and found the Deputy with a Barred Owl that appeared to have been struck by a vehicle while catching a rabbit. The deceased rabbit was on the ground next to the owl and the owl's talons were full of rabbit hair. The owl was carefully secured and transported to a licensed rehabilitator, who will monitor its recovery for future release.

ECO with injured Barred Owl
Lieutenant William Powell with an injured Barred Owl

Marine Basin Patrol Finds Undersized Crabs and Fish - Kings County

On August 2, ECOs Paul Pasciak and Kimberly Garnsey were conducting shoreline checks in Kings County when they observed two individuals cast netting in the Marine Basin area. The ECOs made their way through the thick marsh to check on the fishermen. The tide was coming in rapidly so they made a quick inspection of the catch and located a large number of undersized crabs and short fish, so they directed the individuals to meet them on higher ground. The cast netters had seven short Scup as well as 99 undersized Blue Claw Crabs. One individual was written four criminal summons returnable to Kings County Criminal Court, and the fish and crabs were released back to the water.

ECO releasing undersized fish and crabs
ECO Garnsey releasing undersized fish and crabs

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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