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For Release: Wednesday, February 1, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-January

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:

Out of Season Turkey - Suffolk County

On Jan. 16, ECOs Alena Lawston and Jeremy Eastwood investigated claims of a convicted felon shooting a wild turkey, although the turkey season was closed, in the town of Southampton. The ECOs located the subject and interviewed the man and his relative, who witnessed the shooting. The convicted felon was found to be in possession of two shotguns, one of which was used to shoot the turkey. After the evidence was collected and secured, the man was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, taking a wild turkey during the closed season, and failure to properly tag a wild turkey.

A female moose resting as the tranquilizer wears off
A female moose with the tracking collar
fitted and blindfolded to prevent injury to the
moose as the tranquilizer wears off.
(photo by David Rivers)

Moose Collaring - Herkimer County

On Jan. 17, ECO Shana Hutton assisted the Bureau of Wildlife with a moose collaring detail. DEC hired Native Range Capture Services to dart and capture five female moose for collaring/tracking research. Wildlife staff requested the assistance of an ECO for crowd control and general scene safety. The detail was successful and achieved its five-moose goal. The moose were temporily tranquilized, fitted with radio tracking collars, and then returned to the woods when the tranquilizer wore off. ECO Hutton, a trained member of the Division of Law Enforcement's Chemical Immobilization Team, flew as a passenger in the helicopter to assist with locating the moose.

Same Truck, Same Ticket, Different County - Ulster County

On Jan. 17, while ECO Jeannette Bastedo was on patrol in the town of Rosendale, she observed a heavy duty diesel vehicle (HDDV) that had a Yonkers address and business name on the side of the cab. She recognized the truck as the same one that she and ECO Jason Smith had pulled over in Bronx County in December for failing to have a HDDV emissions inspection. At that time, the ECOs had issued a summons returnable to Bronx County Court for failing to have a HDDV emissions inspection because the truck was registered to the nine-county New York City Metro Area that is required by the ECL to have such an inspection. ECO Bastedo noticed the vehicle still did not have the sticker. She pulled over the truck and issued another ticket for the same charge, this time returnable to the Town of Rosendale Court.

Illegal Automobile Paint Shop - Erie County

On Jan. 17, ECO Robert Peinkofer and DEC's Division of Air Quality staff investigated a complaint that an auto repair shop in the village of Depew was acting as a collision shop and spray painting cars with no ventilation system in place. Evidence of car painting, including paints, sprayers, dust, and other materials made it apparent that the shop was involved with illegal painting. The owner was interviewed and admitted that he painted cars. He was advised of the laws and was issued five tickets for violations onsite. The charges are returnable to the Village of Depew Court on Feb. 6.

Bucket filled with illegal fish
Illegally possessed fish from
Cossayuna Lake.

Good Day of Bad Fishing - Washington County

On Jan. 18, ECO Stephen Gonyeau received a complaint of a subject hiding fish on Cossayuna Lake in the town of Argyle. The complainant stated that as he was leaving the ice he witnessed a man in a green suit carry a five-gallon pail of fish off the ice and hide it under a gray tarp behind a camp. ECO Gonyeau responded to the area and located the subject on the ice. When asked about hiding a bucket full of fish, the subject admitted that he had about 100 bluegills. In total, the man was in possession of 141 bluegills, 91 fish over the daily catch limit. He was issued a ticket for possessing over the limit of blue gills, returnable to the Argyle Town Court.

Garbage dumped at Carlton Hill
Garbage at Carlton Hill WMU


Illegal Dumping - Wyoming County

On Jan. 20, ECO RJ Ward closed an investigation into the illegal disposal of solid waste that was dumped at Carlton Hill Multiple Use Area in the town of Middlebury. The garbage included office furniture, children's furniture, and toys. Some of the items indicated that the garbage came from an address in Lyndonville. Ward determined that the address was a vacant house in foreclosure. Ward located the previous occupants and learned they had moved out of the Lyndonville property almost a year ago. They denied dumping the waste in Middlebury but admitted the property was theirs. The former occupants directed Ward to First National Bank, which is now in control of the property. First National Bank directed Ward to a construction company from Indiana that, in turn, directed Ward to a local property preservation company. Ward interviewed three employees of the local company, one of whom admitted to dumping the waste late on Christmas evening. The employee was charged with the illegal disposal of solid waste and the unpermitted operation of a solid waste management facility. The man cleaned up the garbage and properly disposed of the waste.

Illegal Hunting in the Town Park - Orange County

On Jan. 22, ECO Chris Lattimer was contacted by the Town of Warwick Police regarding multiple men illegally hunting on town park property. ECO Lattimer responded to the park and met with the Warwick officers, who were with the suspects' vehicles. The officers stated that they had seen four men far out in the field with shotguns and dogs but were not sure where they had gone. ECO Lattimer decided to wait for the hunters to return to their vehicles rather than track them through the woods. An hour later, the four hunters returned to their trucks. They stated that they had been out rabbit hunting and all four men possessed valid hunting licenses. However, each was missing at least one deer season tag. All of the men admitted to shooting deer during the open season but an online check by ECO Lattimer showed that none of them had reported their deer. Each of the men were issued a ticket for illegally hunting on posted property and for possessing a gun on town property, issued by the Warwick PD. All of the tickets are returnable to the Town of Warwick 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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