Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-October

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police 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.
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).

"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:

Robert DeRoo Memorial Conservation Dinner and Youth Hunt - Wayne County
On Oct. 13, 33 youth hunters gathered at the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah to participate in the 10th Annual Robert DeRoo Memorial Youth Hunt. The hunt is put on every year through the cooperation of ECOs, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Montezuma Audubon Center, local sportsman federations, and area companies. At the dinner, children enjoyed a wild game meal and learned about wildlife management and conservation, gun and hunter safety, and how to be ethical hunters. Experts talked about dog handling, hunting techniques, and how to properly clean game. Eight 14- and 15-year-olds were assisted in the youth deer hunt by Lt. Matthew Lochner and Lt. Aaron Gordon, ECOs Kevin Thomas and Anthony Drahms, and volunteers, and several kids were lucky enough to harvest their first deer with the help of these guides. Eighteen youth participated in the waterfowl and pheasant hunts with the help of volunteers and ECOs Drahms, Mark Colesante, Scott Sincebaugh, Scott Angotti, David Thomas, and Zach Prentice.

Youth hunters, parents, and other DeRoo participants
Youth hunters, parents, and other DeRoo participants

Three successful youth hunters with their mentors
Three successful youth hunters with their mentors

Hunting from the Road - Jefferson County
On Oct. 16, ECO Pete Jackson was notified that a group of men were shooting a deer from a roadway in the town of Lorraine. The complainant had been working in his backyard when he spotted a doe and two fawns run from his yard. Shortly after, a pickup truck stopped in the road and a gun shot was fired. The truck started to drive away and the complainant gave chase. The man confronted the subjects in the pickup and asked if they were planning to retrieve the deer. The individuals in the truck returned to the area, retrieved the deer, and left. The complainant took some photos of the truck and deer and shared them with ECO Jackson. The truck was registered in Vermont and despite having a 30-minute head start, ECO Jackson located it. ECO Jackson conducted interviews with the occupants and the subjects confessed to the crime. One man was charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharge of a firearm over a public highway, taking wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle, and unlawful taking of wildlife. A second individual was found to have improperly filled out his carcass tag on a second deer found at their camp. The doe was seized as evidence.

Three successful youth hunters with their mentors
ECO Jackson and the illegally killed doe

A Bevy of Short Fish - Suffolk County
On Oct. 20, ECOs Jeremy Eastwood, Robert McCabe, and Justanna Bohling observed a boat pull into the Port Jefferson Boat Ramp in Brookhaven carrying six passengers. The group of boaters began to unload buckets and coolers. The ECOs struck up a conversation with the group, who stated they had been fishing all day. The ECOs measured the fish in each bucket and found that the group was in possession of 43 black sea bass - all under the allowed 15 inches in length, and 11 over the per person allotted limit. The group was also in possession of 12 porgy less than 10 inches. Only one individual had a marine fishing registration. Nine tickets were issued for the taking of undersized black sea bass and porgy, as well as not possessing a marine registration.

ECO Bohling sorting and measuring fish
ECO Bohling sorting and measuring fish

K-9 Assists in Finding Fleeing Subject - Steuben County
On Oct. 21, ECO Matthew Baker responded to assist the Steuben County Sheriff's Office with a motor vehicle accident in which the operator fled on foot in the town of Wayland. The vehicle had left the roadway and crashed into a parked vehicle in the driveway of a residence. The operator was confronted by the homeowner and subsequently fled down an embankment after seeing a Sheriff's Deputy approach. After arriving on scene and speaking with the Deputy, ECO Baker learned the operator was a registered sex offender, had two stolen license plates on the vehicle, and had a suspended license. ECO Fay Fuerch and K-9 Handley responded to the scene. The suspect's sneaker was located. A short time later, a Sheriff's Deputy spotted the suspect running into a cornfield. ECO Baker set up a perimeter and K-9 Handley was redeployed into the cornfield and located the suspect sitting in a row of standing corn. The suspect surrendered upon seeing the K-9 and the Deputy and ECO Baker took the suspect into custody without incident.

Illegal Fill in a Trout Stream - Rockland County
On Oct. 22, ECOs Melissa Burgess and Will Chomicki responded to a complaint of work disturbing a stream in New City. While investigating, the ECOs found that dirt and rocks had been dropped into a Class C trout stream. The landowner admitted that he had the fill put there for what was supposed to be a "temporary" period of time. The landowner was issued a ticket for disposing soil in a trout stream and was advised to contact DEC's Division of Water to facilitate a remediation plan.

“Temporary” fill in a trout stream
"Temporary" fill in a trout stream

Illegal Disposal of Abandoned Automotive Repair Shop - Chautauqua County
On Oct. 23, ECO Jerry Kinney completed an investigation into the illegal disposal of a commercial business located at 2799 State Rt. 20 in the town of Sheridan. The automotive garage had been in poor condition for several years and the owner of the building decided to borrow a friend's excavator and dig a large hole in an attempt to demolish and bury the building. Nearly half the demolished building was placed in the hole prior to ECO Kinney receiving an anonymous complaint. After speaking with the property owner, ECO Kinney determined that asbestos abatement was not completed as required for all commercial demolitions. The waste needed to be legally disposed of at a regulated facility and not buried on site. The owner was cited for illegal disposal of solid waste, returnable to the Town of Sheridan Court.

“Temporary” fill in a trout stream
Partially demolished, abandoned repair shop

NYPD Joint Helicopter Rescue Training - Kings County
On Oct. 26 and 27, Lt. Sean Reilly and ECOs Ike Bobseine, Jordan Doroski, Ben Tabor, and Brian Gustitus from Region 1 joined Region 2 ECOs Waldemar Auguscinski, Chris Macropolous, and John Rich for a two-day helicopter hoist training with the New York Police Department Aviation Unit. The ECOs were given aircraft safety and officer and patient hoist operation training. The operations involved several hoists, including receiving a rescue specialist and the safe transfer of a medical patient on a backboard from the boat to the medevac helicopter. Outside of the U.S. Coast Guard, NYPD is the only hoist/extraction helicopter operation in the region and supports rescue missions in several surrounding counties. NYPD now recognizes DEC Police trained partners to assist them in air/sea rescue operations.

ENCON A-12 receiving an NYPD Aviation Rescue Specialist
ENCON A-12 receiving an NYPD Aviation Rescue Specialist

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