Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early June

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:

Lost and Found - Sullivan County

On June 1, ECO Matthew Burdick was fueling his patrol vehicle in the village of Roscoe when he was approached by an elderly man driving a SUV. The man asked directions to Catskill. ECO Burdick asked whether the man meant the town of Catskill or the Catskills Park, and it became evident that the man was disoriented. After running the Pennsylvania plates, ECO Burdick confirmed that neither he nor his vehicle had been associated with a missing person report. The man then left on his own recognizance. Fifteen minutes later, Pennsylvania State Police contacted ECO Burdick stating they had recently been notified of a missing person matching the description of the vehicle and the subject. ECO Burdick contacted the New York State Police out of Liberty to be on the lookout for the vehicle. ECO Burdick caught up to the man about 30 minutes later on Rt. 97, driving south. Family members were notified of the man's location, and ECO Burdick and NYSP Troopers remained with the man until family arrived.

Rush Delivery - St. Lawrence County

On June 1, ECO Jon Ryan was driving on State Rt. 37 in the town of Waddington when he noticed a car behind him in traffic with its hazard lights on. The car then pulled up behind ECO Ryan's vehicle and the driver began waving to ECO Ryan to pull over. ECO Ryan pulled to the shoulder and met the driver. The man said his wife was in labor and they were on their way to Massena Memorial Hospital. ECO Ryan said he would lead the couple to the hospital to ensure they made it safely. While en route, the husband again pulled over and jumped from the vehicle, informing the ECO that his wife was, "having the baby now!" ECO Ryan called for an ambulance. Fortunately, the expectant mother is a physician's assistant and was able to "self-deliver" the baby. The baby began to cry and the mother indicated that she was not having any complications. The Massena Rescue squad arrived several minutes later and mother and child were loaded into the ambulance, arriving at Massena Memorial Hospital with a good story to tell.

Ruffed Grouse Crossing - Cattaraugus County

On June 2, ECO Jerry Kinney and Darci Dougherty were on patrol in the town of South Valley, Cattaraugus County, when the ECOs observed a female ruffed grouse with eight to 10 newly hatched chicks crossing the road. The ECOs were able to stop oncoming traffic so the ruffed grouse could safely cross the road with her babies.

Ruffed grouse and family crossing the roadway.
Ruffed grouse and family crossing the roadway.

"I Fish New York" - Queens County

On June 3, families and youngsters were invited to the Gantry Plaza Pier in Queens County for an "I Fish New York" event. Lt. Dawn Galvin and ECO Lucas Palmateer assisted DEC Region 2 fisheries manager, Melissa Cohen, to introduce children and their families to saltwater fishing. The sun was shining and the fish were biting. Almost everyone in attendance had the opportunity to catch a fish. Among the species caught were Striped Bass, Fluke and Cunner. The children were delighted to learn about how to participate in the conservation of New York State's bountiful natural resources.

ECO Palmateer helping young anglers return a small Striped Bass to the water.
ECO Palmateer helping young anglers return a
small Striped Bass to the water.

Fishing with a Warrant - Orange County

On June 4, ECO Christopher Lattimer was on patrol conducting recreational fishing checks at Highland Lakes State Park. He had checked 10 fishermen without issue and observed three more on the far side of the lake. ECO Lattimer made his was around to the men and asked to check their licenses. Two of the three men were unable to produce fishing licenses; all claimed not to have caught any fish. ECO Lattimer then checked the immediate area and found one largemouth bass in a cooler belonging to the men. At this point ECO Lattimer photographed the fish, released it back into the water, and walked the men back to their car for identification. At the vehicle, ECO Lattimer identified the men and ran them through E-Justice system. One of the individuals came back with an active warrant from the New York State Police. ECO Lattimer confirmed the warrant and requested that Troopers meet him at Troop F in Middletown to relay the individual. ECO Lattimer issued two of the men tickets for Fishing without a Freshwater Fishing License and the third for Taking Largemouth Bass out of Season, returnable to the town of Wallkill Court. ECO Lattimer then took the individual with the warrant into custody and transported him to Troop F in Middletown, where he was turned over to NYSP.

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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