Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early January

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 2017, the 301 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:

Lead Acid Batteries on the Ground - Orange County
On Jan. 5, ECOs Melissa Burgess and Corey Hornicek traveled to the town of Monroe in Orange County to perform checks of auto repair shops. ECOs were on the lookout for violations such as uncovered lead acid batteries or batteries left on the ground, unregistered or unlabeled waste oil tanks, and improper posting of signs concerning the acceptance of waste oil or lead acid batteries for recycling. During one check, the ECOs observed a number of batteries left exposed to the weather, as well as several additional batteries in standing water in the garage. The officers explained the violation to the owner of the business and the necessary corrective measures. A ticket was issued for improper storage of lead acid batteries, returnable to the Village of Monroe Court.

Used automotive batteries stored outdoors illegally
Used automotive batteries stored outdoors illegally

Coyote Hunters Caught with Loaded Guns - Dutchess County
On Jan. 6, while on patrol in Dutchess County, ECO Robert Hodor observed a pickup truck parked in the Lafayetteville Multiple Use Area parking lot. ECO Hodor went up the road to turn around but by the time he returned to the parking lot, the truck was gone, leaving fresh tire tracks in the snow through a field. ECO Hodor waited and the truck returned to the parking lot. ECO Hodor stopped the truck and found two individuals inside who said that they were scouting for coyotes and planned on hunting for them that night. Officer Hodor asked to see the subjects' guns. The driver replied that they were in the back seat and that each rifle was loaded with a bullet in the chamber. The passenger said it was his first time hunting and that he thought, incorrectly, it was acceptable to have a round chambered. Both subjects were issued a ticket for having a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, returnable to the Town of Milan Court.

Shellfish Seized - Kings County
On Jan. 7, ECOs Zachary Kochanowski and Connor Dodge conducted several shellfish market checks in Kings County. The ECOs observed multiple violations during these inspections and issued tickets, including two for possession of untagged shellfish, one for failing to possess a valid shellfish water storage permit, and one for removing or defacing a tag or label, all returnable to Kings County Court. In total, 130 clams and 93 mussels were seized, photographed as evidence, and disposed of as they could not be verified as suitable for human consumption.

Seized clams and mussels - photo1 Seized clams and mussels - photo 2
Seized clams and mussels

Blood in the Snow - Warren County
On the night of Jan. 8, ECO Alan Brassard received a call from New York State Trooper Bryan McCormack who was at a complaint in the town of Chester with Warren County Deputy Adam Hurlburt. The Warren County Sheriff's Department received a complaint from a couple that had found a dead buck in their backyard. ECO Brassard responded to the residence and checked the area for evidence. ECO Brassard seized the deer and determined it had been killed by a crossbow bolt. The ECO returned the next day with ECO Maxwell Nicols and the two officers followed a blood trail that led away from the property, weaving through the woods behind the complainant's house, across State Rt. 9, and behind three additional houses before ending at two corn piles behind another house. No one was home, but the ECOs, assisted by State Trooper Haley Grace, obtained a phone number for the owner. ECO Brassard contacted the suspect by phone and he admitted that he had shot the deer from his home late in the afternoon the previous day, but was unable to track it through the snow in the dark. He was issued three misdemeanor appearance tickets for illegal taking of wildlife, taking big game out of season, and taking big game over bait. An additional ticket for hunting without a valid hunting license was also issued. The crossbow and bolts were seized as evidence. All of the tickets are returnable to the Town of Chester Court.

ECOs Nicols and Brassard with the buck and crossbow
ECOs Nicols and Brassard with the buck and crossbow

Investigating Cause of Death of a Moose - Franklin County
On Jan. 9, ECO Jim Cranker assisted DEC wildlife technicians Sharon Tabor, Ben Simpson, and Chris Long in investigating a deceased moose in the Chateaugay Woodlands Conservation Easement in the town of Franklin. The female moose was radio collared during the winter of 2016, and died on Jan. 5, according to the radio collar, which had transmitted a "mortality event." The crew snowshoed in to the location transmitted by the collar and found the moose in a bedded position under the snow on an old logging road. The temperatures over the previous weekend had been extremely cold, nearly 30 degrees below zero at times. No scavengers had disturbed the carcass. Her coat was thick and healthy looking, and there were no signs of external parasites on the moose. However, her bone marrow indicated possible malnourishment. The recovered bone marrow, along with the moose's head, lungs, kidneys, heart, and liver were packed out of the woods and sent to DEC's Wildlife Pathology Unit in Delmar for analysis. Results will be determined in the coming months.

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