Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, August 9, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid to Late July

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, the 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:

A Good Day to be an ECO - Orange County

On July 12, ECOs Melissa Burgess, Maxwell Nicols, Kimberly Garnsey, and K-9 Officer Ricky Wood and K-9 "Deming" were invited to the Pine Bush High School Leadership and Law Academy to speak with 90 young people interested in careers in law enforcement. ECOs Nicols, Wood, and K-9 Deming showed the versatility and effectiveness of DEC K-9s in spent shell and wild game meat detection and subject apprehension. ECOs Burgess and Garnsey answered students' questions and explained an ECO's typical work day. The students viewed a wide display of items, including furs of New York's native species, as well as seized animal products such as ivory, alligator, and other protected species. Public outreach events like this one are great opportunities for young people to meet local ECOs and learn firsthand about their exciting careers.

ECO Wood and K-9 Deming searching ATVs for hidden contraband
ECO Wood and K-9 Deming searching ATVs for hidden contraband.
ECOs Burgess and Garnsey answer questions from the class
ECOs Burgess and Garnsey answer questions from the class.

Auto Recycling Fire - Suffolk County

On July 21, ECO Emma Carpenter responded to a large fire at an automobile recycling facility in West Babylon. Upon arrival, ECO Carpenter found the fire was contained. Nine local fire departments helped put out the blaze. However, the thousands of gallons of water poured over crushed cars at the facility caused some petroleum products to wash off-site and into the street. With help from Rob Poczkalski from the DEC Spills Response Unit and staff from Babylon's Department of Environmental Control, oil absorbent booms and pads were put down around storm drains to stop the flow of water. Approximately 100 cars were involved in the fire, and the storm drains and pipes are being remediated to remove any residue from the contaminated water. None of the contaminated water reached local basins or waterways.

Burned cars in the aftermath of the recycling yard fire
Burned cars in the aftermath of the recycling yard fire.

Illegal Transfer Station and Petroleum Spill - Orange County

On July 25, ECO Chris Lattimer responded to a solid waste complaint in the town of Goshen. On the scene, he observed a carting company bringing construction and demolition debris mixed with non-exempt material and dumping the debris. ECO Lattimer also observed that the company was operating as a transfer station by bringing back full dumpsters and off-loading and storing them on site. During his inspection, ECO Lattimer found a large metal container that was being used to store waste oil drums. Upon closer inspection, he found that the mixture of 55-gallon and five-gallon drums were leaking into the container and onto the ground. The owner of the business arrived at the site a short time later and ECO Lattimer issued him tickets for Improper Disposal of Waste Oil, Unlawful Disposal of Solid Waste, Operating a Transfer Station without a Permit, and Failing to Notify/Report a Petroleum Discharge, all returnable to the Town of Goshen Court.

improperly stored waste oil
Improperly stored waste oil

Boat Patrol on Lake Ontario - Monroe County

On July 23 and 29, ECOs George Scheer, Brian Shea, and Gary Wilson were assigned to a marine patrol on Lake Ontario in Monroe County. This patrol was part of a statewide detail for Division of Law Enforcement officers to enforce Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Executive Order for vessels to stay 600 feet from shore when operating at speeds greater than five mph due to high water conditions on Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Region 8 ECOs utilized one of the Division's newest vessels - a 27-foot SAFE Boat, "ENCON A14." While on patrol, the ECOs fielded questions about fishing and navigation laws. Most of the boaters encountered over the two days were in compliance with the Navigation and Conservation Laws, although four tickets were issued and more than a dozen verbal warnings given for other minor infractions.

Patrol Vessel in Monroe County
Patrol Vessel A14 in Monroe County

Summer Deer Jacking - Schoharie County

On July 27, Tech Sgt. Keith Isles was notified by a Schoharie County Sheriff's Deputy of a possible deer jacking the previous night in the town of Carlisle. The Deputy responded to a complaint at 11:41 p.m., from a resident stating they had observed a pickup truck spotlighting fields. The person then heard 12 to 15 small caliber rifle shots. The complainant drove to the scene and the pickup left at a high rate of speed. However, the complainant had the vehicle's license plate number and a description of the truck. The Deputy did not locate the truck or any physical evidence. Sgt. Isles with K-9 Shamey and ECO Vern Bauer with K-9 Woods responded to the scene to attempt to locate evidence. The K-9s located two .22-caliber shell casings and four live rounds in the grass at the side of the road. The K-9s also searched the surrounding fields for deer but found none. ECOs Isles and Bauer spoke with the truck owner's parents at their residence. Fifteen minutes later, the 23-year-old subject agreed to meet the officers. During his interview, the subject stated that he and some friends were hanging out when one decided he wanted to shoot a deer. The owner of the truck drove while the second subject rode in the bed of the truck to shoot. The truck owner stated his friend shot twice at a deer, missing both times before the gun jammed. The alleged shooter was summoned to the scene and during a separate interview gave the same details. Based on the statements of the witness, subjects, and physical evidence, the men were charged with attempting to take whitetail deer with an artificial light, taking wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle, possession of a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle, and discharging a firearm over a public highway. They are set to return to Carlisle Court on Aug. 16.

Rifle round found by K-9s investigating illegal hunting complaint in Carlisle
Rifle round found by K-9s investigating illegal hunting complaint
in Carlisle.

Bassmasters Elite Tournament - Lake Champlain

On July 29 and 30, ECO Matt LaCroix attended the Bassmasters Elite series fishing tournament on Lake Champlain. On July 26, ECO LaCroix attended the anglers briefing at Plattsburgh's Crete Civic Center at the request of the BASS tournament manager in order to answer anglers' questions regarding New York State fishing rules and regulations. On the mornings of July 29 and 30, ECO LaCroix was present at the start of each day's event at the DEC Downtown Plattsburgh Boat Launch. ECO LaCroix also attended the weigh-ins at the Crete Civic Center. More than 100 professional anglers from around the country attended the tournament.

The Bassmaster Elite tournament weigh in
The Bassmaster Elite tournament weigh in.

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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