Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late November

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:

Late Night Shots - Jefferson County

On the night of Nov. 18, ECO Shea Mathis responded to two poaching complaints of shots fired in the town of Lorraine. ECO Mathis quickly identified two suspects and issued trespassing tickets for knowingly entering posted property to hunt raccoon. ECO Mathis spent hours tracking down suspects on the second complaint, finally finding a poacher who admitted to illegally killing an 11-point buck around 11 p.m. The man's firearm and the deer were seized as evidence and he was arrested for taking deer with the aid of artificial light, discharging a firearm from a public highway, illegally taking a white-tailed deer, and failure to tag the deer.

ECO with the illegally taken buck.
ECO Mathis with the illegally taken 11-point buck.

Green-Grey Patrol - Sullivan County

New York State Troopers partnered up with ECOs for the opening weekend of the Southern Zone deer season on Nov. 19 and 20. Four Green-Grey teams responded to 45 complaints ranging from deer illegally shot from the roadway to illegally baited hunting stands. More than 70 tickets were issued for violations and misdemeanor offenses of the Environmental Conservation Law, resulting in the seizure of 12 illegally taken deer and three illegally taken bear. Thirty hunters were issued tickets for hunting with the aid of bait. The Green-Grey Patrol is an excellent opportunity for the two agencies to work alongside each other and to train together to understand each other's capabilities. This can be of value when responding to incidents when all agencies respond.

ECO and Trooper with the illegally taken buck.
ECO Thomas Koepf and Trooper Parucki with an
illegally taken buck.

The Friends-and-Family Plan - Ulster County

On Nov. 22, ECOs Joshua Sulkey and Geoffrey Younglove were on a separate investigation when they observed blood in the back of a van and on the side of the road nearby. They followed the van owner to his residence and observed three tagged buck heads and one tagged, unprocessed buck. Deer taken in New York must be tagged by the hunter that shoots it. ECO Ricky Wood responded to assist with the developing investigation. The ECOs determined that one hunter had killed two of the tagged bucks and another had killed three bucks and one antlerless deer, tagging two of the bucks with his wife's tag. Two illegal deer were seized. The suspects were charged with numerous ECL violations, including using another person's hunting tags, lending hunting tags to another person, failure to tag deer as required by law, taking over the limit of deer, and failure to report deer harvests. All charges are pending in the Town of Fallsburg Court in Sullivan County and the Town of Wawarsing Court in Ulster County.

ECOs with the illegally taken bucks.
ECOs with the illegally taken bucks.

No Luck But Three Bucks - Warren County

On Nov. 22, ECO Robert Higgins was on foot patrol when he heard two gunshots close to a baited tree stand he was investigating in a remote area of the Adirondacks. Hunting with the aid of bait is illegal in New York. ECO Higgins rushed to the stand, but the culprit was already gone. Pumpkins and apples were scattered about and five deer congregated in the vicinity. Drag marks from a fresh deer carcass led to the back of the culprit's house, where he was preparing to gut a freshly killed eight-point buck next to a larger nine-point buck. The suspect said that he did not have a tag for the eight pointer and claimed a friend had shot the nine-pointer the previous day. The story then changed, and the suspect said that he, in fact, had shot the nine pointer. With the assistance of ECO George LaPoint, the friend was interviewed. He confessed to loaning his deer tags to the original suspect. The suspect was charged with taking deer over bait, taking over the limit of deer, possessing the tags of another hunter, and illegally killing deer. The case is pending in the Town of Johnsburg Court.

ECO Higgins with the illegally taken bucks.
ECO Higgins with the illegally taken bucks.

Decoy Survives - Seneca County

On Nov. 23, ECOs Scott Angotti and Mark Colesante conducted a deer decoy detail in the town of Tyre. Deer decoys are used to address complaints of poachers shooting from vehicles. Shortly after setting up the decoy in a safe area, a man stopped, exited his vehicle and, while leaning over his vehicle, fired twice at the decoy. An ECO on foot attempted to apprehend the subject but he jumped in his vehicle and attempted to flee. The second ECO blocked the roadway and the subject veered into a snowbank before surrendering. He was handcuffed and arraigned in the Town of Tyre Court for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, shooting from a public highway, trespassing, failure to comply with a lawful order, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, forged inspection sticker, uninspected vehicle, and unlicensed operation. The decoy remained unscathed, as both shots missed.

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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