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For Release: Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early December

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

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:

No Permits, No Labels, Big Problem - Queens County

On Dec. 1, ECOs Bradley Buffa, Zach Brown, Jason Hilliard, Chris Macropoulos, and Michael Hameline assisted a New York Police Department team from the 108th Precinct in a detail focusing on auto repair shops in Queens. Inspections showed that several shops failed to properly label waste oil containers. Two shops were found without the necessary permits to emit into the air from a spray booth. One shop was found with a sewer manhole directly under a vehicle lift where fluids were routinely drained into the sewer system. Through the course of the detail, five shops were visited and violations were found and issued in every shop.

ECO Hameline inspecting a makeshift exhaust vent.
ECO Hameline inspecting a makeshift exhaust vent.

Illegal Clams - Kings County

On Dec. 3, ECOs Brian Gustitus, Evan McFee, JT Rich, and Jon Walraven conducted a series of checks on fish and shellfish markets in Brooklyn. The ECOs concentrated their efforts on shellfish storage and tagging. Throughout the day they found numerous violations after visiting more than a half-dozen storefronts and markets. The newly trained ECOs worked in pairs to visit locations before word spread that the checks were underway. By strategically planning to quickly enter the separate locations simultaneously, the ECOs were able to more effectively find violations that could otherwise be quickly hidden or covered up. In all, four summons were issued for untagged shellfish and illegal storage of shellfish in water without a permit. The illegal shellfish was seized and destroyed so they could not be sold after sitting in unsanitary conditions.

ECOs McFee, Rich, Gustitus, and Walraven with the seized shellfish.
ECOs McFee, Rich, Gustitus, and Walraven with the
seized shellfish.

Sow Taken From Cubs - Sullivan County

While on patrol on Dec. 4, ECO Andy Kostuk received a tip from Capt. Martin Townley and Sr. Fisheries and Wildlife Technician Tim McNamara that an illegal bear was being dropped off at a local butcher in the town of Walkill. ECO Kostuk subsequently went to the butcher shop and seized the bear. Upon investigation, the ECO found that a New Jersey hunter from a private camp in Grahamsville had shot a mother bear that had been with two cubs. Tickets were issued to the hunter for taking a bear from a group of bears and illegally taking protected wildlife.

ECO Kostuk with the illegally taken sow.
ECO Kostuk with the illegally taken sow.

Hunting While Intoxicated - Monroe County

On Dec. 4, ECO Joshua Wolgast responded to a call of a hunter stumbling down a road in the town of Henrietta. He arrived on scene and met with Monroe County Sheriff's Deputies, who had also received a call. Two hunters were located, who explained that they were conducting a drive and had killed an antlerless deer. One of the subjects appeared extremely intoxicated and subsequently failed all field sobriety tests. He later submitted to a breath test and was found to be hunting with a blood alcohol content of .19 percent. He was charged with hunting while intoxicated, trespassing, and taking an illegal deer. The second individual was found to be in possession of marijuana. He was charged with taking an illegal deer, trespassing, unlawful possession of marijuana, failing to properly tag a deer, and failing to properly consign a deer tag. All charges are pending in the Town of Henrietta Court.

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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