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For Release: Wednesday, August 16, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early August

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:

Lost and Found Drugs - Kings County

On August 1, ECO Jonathon Walraven was just starting his shift in Kings County when he noticed several suspicious envelopes on the ground near his patrol vehicle. The envelopes were approximately the size of a sugar packet with the words "King Kong" stamped on them. Under closer examination, ECO Walraven noticed that the packages contained a white powdery substance, possibly narcotics intended for sale. ECO Walraven secured the narcotics as evidence and contacted the local New York Police Department precinct, which dispatched a unit. The NYPD Unit confirmed that the packages were indeed glassine envelopes containing heroin. The envelopes were turned over to the NYPD for further processing.

Heroin packets in the street.
Heroin packets in the street.

Rising Water on Canajoharie Creek - Montgomery County

On August 2, ECO Jason DeAngelis and Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a call reporting several people stranded in a ravine in Canajoharie with water swiftly rising. ECO DeAngelis and two members of the Sheriff's Department scrambled along the ravine and pinpointed the location of three victims. The Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department and Schoharie County Rescue squads conducted high angle rescue operations, and all three subjects were rescued without injury from the bottom of the 350-foot deep ravine. Earlier in the day the ravine was closed by park officials due to the threat of rising waters. The two female adults who were rescued admitted to walking around the locked gate at the entrance to the park and a second locked gate at the lower end of the park. The third person rescued was a juvenile. Local police issued the two adults appearance tickets for trespassing. Just three weeks prior, 13 people were stranded due to similar conditions and unheeded warnings.

Fox Pup for Sale - Erie County

On August 3, ECO Mark Mazurkiewicz received a call regarding an ad on Buffalo's Craigslist for an eight-week-old female Arctic Fox Pup being sold for $600 in Kenmore. ECO Mazurkiewicz contacted a permitted wildlife rehabilitator that operates a sanctuary for foxes and they met with the Kenmore woman offering the fox pup for sale. It is illegal to possess, barter, or offer for sale a wild animal as a pet in New York. The fox pup was seized and taken to the permitted facility where it will be cared for pending a court disposition. The woman posting the pup for sale had bought it in Michigan and brought it into New York. She was ticketed for offering a wild animal for sale as a pet, returnable to Tonawanda Court, and faces up to a $250 fine. Officer Mazurkiewicz subsequently contacted a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent to follow up on the sale of the pup in Michigan and possible violations of the Lacey Act, which regulates the interstate sale and transportation of wildlife.

Blue Artic fox pup listing on Craigslist
Blue Artic fox pup
Arctic Fox offered for sale on Craigslist

Vessel Fire and Spill Response on Lake Champlain - Clinton County

On August 4, ECOs responded to a vessel on fire and reports of a diesel fuel spill off Valcour Island in Lake Champlain. The Clinton County Sheriff's Department Marine Patrol was first on scene and extinguished the fire and brought the owners of the vessel to shore. The ECOs responded with a Safeboat and another smaller patrol vessel and found the sunken vessel's 50-gallon diesel fuel tank leaking fuel into the water. With the assistance of Clinton County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Day and DEC Spill Responder Ben Hankins, the ECOs placed booms in the water to contain the spill, utilizing the DEC Spill Response trailer staged at the Clinton County 911 center in Plattsburgh. The ECOs contained the spill to a small area around the sunken vessel until contractors were able to remove the vessel on August 5.

Fuel spill cleanup from sunken vessel.
ECOs working to contain spilled fuel from sunken boat on
Lake Champlain.
Fuel spill cleanup on Lake Champlain

Still Spraying - Suffolk County

On August 4, ECO Mark Simmons responded to a complaint of a worker wearing a backpack sprayer and spraying pesticides in a wetland in Brookhaven Township. At the complaint location, ECO Simmons observed a pickup parked in front of the residence with a container of the herbicide Roundup in the bed of the truck. Neither the truck nor the equipment displayed the stickers required for commercial application of pesticides. In addition, the worker was not registered for application of pesticides. The operator admitted to spraying Roundup on vegetation in the rear yard, which is adjacent to a tidal wetland. Officer Simmons issued him four tickets for various pesticide regulation violations.

Injured Bear Cub - Sullivan County

On the evening of August 6, ECO Tom Koepf received a call from State Trooper Rob Cioffi asking for help with an injured bear cub on State Route 42 in the town of Fallsburg. A motorcyclist driving that night had witnessed a mother bear and two cubs dash across the road. One of the cubs had an unfortunate experience and ran head first into a passing motor vehicle, rendering it unable to walk. The motorcyclist stayed with the cub until ECO Koepf arrived. The cub appeared in good health except for a possible broken front leg and was removed from the roadway and transported to a wildlife rehabilitator in Eldred to be nursed back to health. The cub is expected to make a full recovery.

ECO Koepf with the injured bear cub.
ECO Koepf with the injured bear cub.

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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