Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, November 9, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late October

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 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 across the state responded to 25,000 calls and issued 22,000 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling 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 work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Illegal Blackfish and Porgy Seized in Chinatown - New York County

On Oct. 19, ECO's Spencer Noyes, Wesley Leubner, Adam Johnson and Lt. Michael Buckley set out into Chinatown for market inspections. ECO's Noyes and Johnson noticed several undersized fish on display for sale in one market. Further inspection revealed 36 pounds of illegal Blackfish (Tautog) and Porgy (Scup). The market was issued two criminal summons for Possession of 16 Undersized Blackfish and Possession of 28 Undersized Porgy. The fish were donated to the Bowery Mission to help feed the homeless in New York City.

ECOs Spencer Noyes, Adam Johnson and Wesley Leubner donate seized fish to the Bowery Mission.
ECOs Spencer Noyes, Adam Johnson and Wesley Leubner donate
seized fish to the Bowery Mission.

Illegal Pheasant Hunting - Genesee County

While on patrol on Oct. 22, ECO Gary Wilson and Lt. Joshua VerHague received a call from a concerned pheasant hunter at the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Oakfield. The hunter stated that he encountered a subject who had just harvested his two bird limit and continued to hunt. The complainant was able to give a vehicle description and plate number. The officers responded to nearby John White WMA and located the suspect's vehicle. The subject was found hunting afield with an additional pheasant in his game pouch. The subject was cited for Taking Small Game in Excess of the Daily Bag Limit.

College Students Help Save Deer - Ulster County

On Oct. 23, ECO Myles Schillinger responded to a call from dispatch of a buck deer hooked to a tree along the shore of the Esopus Creek in the town of Saugerties. He was met at the location by a group of college students who made the call and directed Schillinger to the location. Apparently, two eight-point bucks had been fighting. One buck died from being gored and was found at the site, where a second buck was entangled in an old rope dangling from a tree. ECO Schillinger used his bootlaces to attach his folding knife to a long pole and, using extreme care, he cut the buck loose. It bounded into the Esopus Creek, swam to the other side and bounded away, seemingly unharmed.

ECO Schillinger cutting the Buck loose.
ECO Schillinger cutting the Buck loose.
Another shot of ECO Schillinger cutting the Buck loose.

Freed buck crossing a river.
ECO Schillinger with the college students who reported a buck tied to a tree.
ECO Schillinger with the college students who reported a buck tied to a tree.

Deer Poacher - Rockland County

On Oct. 25 while on patrol, ECOs Christopher Lattimer and Maxwell Nicols received a call reporting a deer illegally taken at night with a rifle. The officers arrived on scene to find blood and the head of an eight-point antlered deer. After a brief interview, the renter of the property confessed to killing the deer. He did not use a conventional rifle but rather a .25-caliber pellet gun. ECO Nicols issued tickets for Illegally Taking Deer, Hunting Big Game without a License, and Taking the Deer by Means of an Air Rifle.

ECO Nicols with illegally taken buck.
ECO Nicols with illegally taken buck.

Shellfish Seizure - Queens County

On Oct. 24, ECOs Jeffrey Krueger and Lucas Palmateer were on the lookout for an individual known to have been transported undersized Atlantic Cod to the H and Y Market in Queens. When the subject matching the description entered the parking lot, ECO Palmateer followed and began questioning him. ECOs Waldamar Auguscinski, Michael Hameline and Christopher Macropoulos arrived on scene to assist. A search of the individual's van produced multiple boxes of various fish and several bags of assorted shellfish. Further questioning revealed that he did not have the proper permits to be transporting any of it. The individual was issued summonses for Failure to Possess a Food Fish Shipper/Dealer Permit and Failure to Possess a Shellfish Shipper Permit. The ECOs seized 30 2-lb bags of Blue Cultured Mussels, 40 2-lb bags of North Eastern Wild Mussels, 100 Oysters and 150 Cherrystone Clams.

ECOs Palmateer, Macropoulos and Hameline with seized shellfish.
ECOs Palmateer, Macropoulos and Hameline with seized shellfish.

Hunt's Point Air Quality Detail - Bronx County

On Oct. 26, ECOs conducted an air quality enforcement detail on Bruckner Boulevard between E. 149th St. and Leggett Avenue in Bronx County, a heavily travelled truck corridor. ECOs performed random inspections of heavy duty diesel vehicles to ensure truck emission control devices were in working order. Approximately 75 vehicles were inspected and 21 summonses were issued - 16 for air quality issues. Officers participating in the detail were Lt. Michael Buckley, Lt. William Burnell, ECO Jeannette Bastedo, ECO Kimberly Garnsey, ECO Bradley Buffa, ECO Wesley Leubner, ECO Jason Smith, ECO Charles Eyler III, ECO William Chomicki, ECO Zachariah Brown, ECO Lucas Palmateer, ECO Spencer Noyes, and ECO Adam Johnson. NYSDEC Division of Air Resources personnel Rick Gage also participated in the detail.

ECO’s Brown and Johnson conducting an opacity test on a diesel truck.
ECO's Brown and Johnson conducting an opacity test on a diesel truck.

The family that shines together, goes to court together - Washington County

On the evening of Oct. 28, ECO Matthew Krug set up on County Rt. 11 in the town of Hampton looking for illicit spotlighting. This was in response to multiple complaints of late reporting spotlighting and several deer found dead with gunshot wounds. At 8 p.m., ECO Krug observed a pickup truck spotlighting a field less than 100 feet from him and conducted a traffic stop. A husband, wife and son were all ticketed for spotlighting within 500 feet of a dwelling, possessing firearms (two rifles) while spotlighting, and possessing an open container of alcohol. Just a few hours later, the officer observed another vehicle spotlighting roughly a mile away. As a green pickup was exiting a field, ECO Krug stopped the truck and discovered another father and son in possession of a spotlight and an unsecured rifle. The father was issued summons for several violations of the Environmental Conservation Law and an un-inspected motor vehicle. A total of 10 tickets were issued for the evening.

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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