Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late May

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:

No One Wants This RV - Oneida County

On May 13, employees of Rubicon Recycling in the city of Rome showed up for work and found an abandoned recreational vehicle in their parking lot. Rubicon Recycling had refused to accept the RV the previous day. Following several interviews and statements, ECO Chrisman Starczek located the owner of the RV. The owner stated that he had tried to scrap the RV but it was refused everywhere he went, so he decided to drop it off on Rubicon Recycling's property. The RV owner was issued a ticket for unlawful disposal of solid waste and is due in the City of Rome Court on June 7.

Abandoned RV
RV abandoned in the city of Rome.

Chasing a Turkey onto Posted Property - Steuben County

On the morning of May 21, a man in the town of Howard was turkey hunting on his family's posted property when he heard a noise in the woods nearby and readied himself to shoot a turkey. Instead, he heard a turkey call that was obviously coming from another human. The hunter confronted two young men that had set up only yards away from where he had been sitting. The two had seen a big tom turkey cross the road and followed it onto posted land where they did not have permission to be. ECO Matthew Baker investigated the case and obtained statements from the parties involved. Two tickets were issued for trespassing on posted land. During the investigation, ECO Baker also discovered that one of the young men involved had already taken a turkey on opening day and did not report it. The subject was issued a ticket for failure to report turkey as required.

Blackfish Bandit - Kings County

On May 23, ECOs Waldemar Auguscinski and Evan McFee were checking live seafood markets and restaurants in Brooklyn. Upon entering one restaurant, ECO Auguscinski noticed a tank full of live blackfish that appeared to be too small to be legally possessed. The ECOs counted and measured 27 blackfish in the live tank, all measuring less than 13 inches. The legal commercial size for blackfish is 15 inches, making these fish illegal to possess. A check of nearby restaurants selling live fish revealed one additional business with nine blackfish under the legal size limit. Both businesses found to be in possession of the undersized fish were issued a summons returnable to Kings County Court.

A number of illegal undersized blackfish from one restaurant.
A number of illegal undersized blackfish from one restaurant.

West Sand Lake Elementary Outreach - Rensselaer County

On May 25, ECOs Kurt Bush and Brian Canzeri and Lt. Liza Bobseine conducted an outreach event for approximately 60 children at the West Sand Lake Elementary School. The officers showed students and teachers some of the equipment used on patrol and talked about the environment and the native wildlife they work to protect. Several of the students expressed the desire to become ECOs and others shared their experiences enjoying the outdoors and New York's natural resources.

ECOs Canzeri and Bush speak to children at West Sand Lake Elementary School.
ECOs Canzeri and Bush speak to children at West Sand Lake Elementary School.

2017 Jones Beach Air Show - Nassau County

On May 25 through 28, ECOs assisted the United States Coast Guard Station Jones Beach with public safety and security during the 2017 Jones Beach Air Show. Marine Enforcement Officers Evan Laczi, Ike Bobseine, Ben Tabor, and Lt. Sean Reilly, along with sector ECOs Tim Brown and Nate Godson, patrolled the ocean and back bays via safeboats. ECOs also assisted NYS Park Police with protection of the Piping Plover nesting sites in the area and crowd protection and control. ECOs Chris DeRose, Kyle Bevis, and Justanna Bohling assisted with the beach patrol via ATVs and UTVs. This annual event draws more than 400,000 spectators over the course of the Memorial Day weekend.

ECO aboard a DEC patrol boat during the air show.
ECO aboard a DEC patrol boat during the air show.

Contractor Faces Big Fines - Sullivan County

Earlier this year, ECO Tom Koepf was approached by a concerned resident of the town of Thompson who had discovered a large pile of garbage on a property he hunts on. ECO Koepf went to the location and found an enormous amount of garbage. ECO Koepf decided to conduct surveillance on the site by installing a trail camera nearby, capturing a number of images of vehicles entering and leaving the site. Once the winter snow melted, ECOs Koepf and Travis Mcnamara sorted through hundreds of bags of garbage. The officers found dozens of incriminating documents, most of which were linked to a renovation job by a contractor from New York City. Several residents aided the ECOs in tracking down the suspect, who was interviewed on May 27. The suspect agreed to meet with ECO Koepf at the dump site. When presented with the evidence found in the pile, along with trail cam photos of vehicles entering the site, the contractor provided ECO Keopf with a full confession stating he instructed his workers to dump on the vacant property. The subject was issued two misdemeanor appearance tickets for unlawful disposal of solid waste in excess of 10 cubic yards and depositing a noisome or unwholesome substance near a public highway, both returnable to the Town of Thompson Court. He faces thousands of dollars in penalties.

Pile of debris

Cleanup of debris
Piles of garbage and workers cleaning up the site.

"Scaring" a Duckling with a Fishing Lure - Broome County

On May 28, ECOs Andy McCormick and Anthony Rigoli were conducting a boat patrol on Whitney Point Reservoir, observing a group of fishermen onshore. ECO Rigoli was watching one particular individual fishing while wading into the water near Dorchester Park. After a short time, he observed the fisherman cast parallel to the shoreline in the direction of several ducklings and then quickly reel the lure in with a jerking motion. ECO Rigoli watched the subject repeat the action, deliberately trying to hook one of the ducklings. ECO McCormick promptly drove the boat over to question the fisherman. Upon questioning the fisherman, the subject stated he was only trying to "scare the duckling back to shore." Not buying the story, the ECOs stressed to the man that what he was doing was not only unethical but illegal, as well. The fisherman was issued appearance tickets for unlawfully pursuing protected wildlife and failing to carry his fishing license. Both tickets are returnable to the Town of Triangle 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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