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For Release: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-March

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 2016, the 286 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 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:

Grey Seal at Smith's Point Beach - Suffolk County

On March 13, ECO Chris Amato responded to a call of an injured seal at Smith's Point Beach. Upon arriving, ECO Amato spoke to a Park Ranger who had received the same call but hadn't located the seal or the complainant. ECO Amato found the seal about 20 feet from the water a half-mile from the location of the original call. The seal was alert but not moving. The Riverhead Marine Foundation (RMF) was notified and responded, conducting an assessment on the animal and determining that it was sick. The seal did not appear to be injured. RMF staff decided to leave the seal and check it again the next day, as seals often bask on the beach. The seal later swam off with the next rising tide.

Gray Seal on Smith’s Point Beach with ECO vehical near
Gray Seal on Smith’s Point Beach
Gray Seal on Smith's Point Beach


One Lucky Hawk - Westchester County

On March 16, ECOs Wes Leubner and Tony Drahms were on patrol when they received a call from the Harrison Police Department reporting an injured hawk had been clipped by a passing vehicle. The ECOs responded to the area and were flagged down by New York State Thruway Authority staff who had removed the immobile bird from the busy highway and placed it in a nearby maintenance barn with a high ceiling and large open doors. However, the bird seemed unable to fly. The ECOs determined that the bird was a Red-Tailed hawk and that it had an injured wing. They transported the hawk to the Brewster Veterinary Hospital for immediate assessment and care. After initial care, the bird will be turned over to Green Chimneys, a local rehabilitation facility that specializes in the care and recovery of migratory birds. Green Chimneys is also host to numerous nature/environmental learning programs open to the public, allowing children enrolled in their programs to actively participate in the rehabilitation of injured wildlife.

ECO Leubner holding Red-Tailed Hawk in blanket
ECO Leubner holding Red-Tailed Hawk
ECO Leubner transferring the injured Red-Tailed Hawk
to Brewster Veterinary Hospital

Peconic Bay Scallop Enforcement - Suffolk County

As the 2016/2017 bay scallop season comes to a close on March 31, DEC's Marine Enforcement Unit is stepping up patrols of the Peconic Bay to address complaints of diggers keeping juvenile bay scallops, also referred to as "bug" or "seed" scallops. The latest case of illegal harvesting of juvenile scallops occurred on March 17, when ECOs Ike Bobseine, Jordan Doroski, and Ben Tabor inspected two commercial harvesters off of Mashomack Preserve in the town of Shelter Island. ECO Doroski's initial inspection of the catch indicated that the two shellfish diggers were in possession of a high percentage of seed scallops. The ECOs sorted through several thousand bay scallops and determined that approximately 15 percent of the total catch was undersized. The fishermen were cited for harvesting juvenile bay scallops and issued tickets with a May court date. The seed scallops were returned to the water.

Seed Scallops
"Bug" or "seed" scallops

ECO's Measuring Scallops on another boat
ECOs Tabor and Bobseine measuring scallops

Bird Wrapped on a Wire - Onondaga County

On March 18, ECO Scott Yacavone responded to a complaint of a seagull wrapped in fishing line and hanging from a utility wire in the village of Baldwinsville. ECO Yacavone arrived to find the bird with both wings pinned together, hanging approximately two feet below the line. With the assistance of the Baldwinsville Fire Department, ECO Yacavone climbed up to the bird on a ladder truck and cut the fishing line. After untangling the line from the bird's wings, the seagull did not appear to have significant injuries. ECO Yacavone took the gull to a rural area and released the bird, unharmed, back into the wild.

ECO Preparing seagull to be released
ECO Yacavone prepares the seagull to be moved and released

Post Season Deer Checks - Livingston County

On March 18 and 19, ECO Brian Wade continued following up on deer season violations from the 2016 season. ECO Wade's first investigation resulted in an individual being issued a ticket for using his girlfriend's tag to take whitetail buck. The second investigation resulted in violations of two illegal deer being killed in the town of Mount Morris along with several tagging violations. The third investigation resulted in three people being issued eight tickets for three illegal deer and tagging violations in the towns of Livonia and Mount Morris.

Polluting Truck Leads to Medical Waste Violation - Bronx County

On March 19, ECOs Jason Smith, Spencer Noyes, and Charles Eyler III were on patrol in Bronx County when ECO Noyes observed a tractor trailer emitting a large quantity of blue exhaust smoke. The ECOs stopped the truck and observed a DEC permit number and regulated medical waste placard on the trailer. ECO Smith interviewed the driver, who said he was transporting the medical waste to a facility upstate and provided the ECOs with manifest documents. When asked for his DEC Part 364 Permit, required for the transportation of regulated waste, the driver admitted to not having the permit. Summons were issued for emitting excessive smoke and failing to carry a waste transporter permit, returnable to Bronx Criminal Court.

Hawk Rescued on the Thruway - Greene County

On March 21, DLE Major Scott Florence was traveling southbound on the Thruway in the town of Coxsackie when he noticed a disoriented hawk standing in the center median. Unable to stop, he contacted ECO Anthony Glorioso, who was nearby. ECO Glorioso determined that the Coopers Hawk had likely been hit by a car. With heavy traffic and the hawk just feet away from the travel lane, ECO Glorioso was able to get behind the hawk, cover it with a blanket, and transport it to his car. The hawk was taken to Triple F Wildlife Services in Hunter for evaluation and rehabilitation.

Coopers Hawk being rescued

ECO Glorioso with the Coopers Hawk
ECO Glorioso capturing the
Coopers Hawk and preparing it to
be taken for rehabilitation

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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