Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early March

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:

Striking Oil - Kings County
On March 1, ECO Ryan Grogan coordinated a joint auto shop inspection with the New York Police Department's (NYPD) 94th Precinct, DEC Spills Response Unit, DEC Division of Water, and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection in Kings County. NYPD had received neighborhood complaints for more than a year stating that a company had been disposing of waste oil in the storm drains in front of their shop. The investigation found the claim to be accurate and the facility was issued multiple citations from NYPD, a Commissioner's order from NYC DEP, and 24 criminal NYC summonses from DEC. Among the most egregious violations found were at least five oil spills that not been reported or cleaned, more than 30 waste oil containers maintained in violation of the ECL, one concealed and unregistered 275 gallon waste oil tank leaking oil onto the ground, and evidence showing that oil from the facility had been introduced to the storm drain, which outflows into marine district waters.

ECOs and Spills conducting site investigation ECOs and Spills conducting site investigation
ECOs and Spills conducting site investigation

ECO Honored by Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs - Erie County
The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs held its 75th Annual Awards ceremony and banquet on March 3 in West Seneca. The federation, which consists of 46 outdoor sporting clubs, presented ECO Mark Mazurkiewicz with the "Public Servant Award" at this year's gathering. Mazurkiewicz has been an ECO for 29 years, 25 of which have been in Erie County. The ceremony was attended by more than 200 people. After receiving the award, ECO Mazurkiewicz thanked attendees for their support, remarking that ECOs do their best work when supported by the sporting public. Among those on hand to see Mark receive this high honor were his daughter Jennifer and Region 9's acting Captain, Robert O'Connor.

 ECO Mark Mazurkiewicz with Public Servant Award
Frank Miskey Sr., First Vice President of the
Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, presents
ECO Mark Mazurkiewicz with "Public Servant Award"

Goose Hunter's Tip Leads to Charges - Tioga County
On March 4, ECO Brent Wilson was on patrol checking goose hunters looking to fill their bag limits late in the season. Passing a corn field in the town of Tioga, ECO Wilson observed a group hunting over a flooded field. ECO Wilson checked the hunter's licenses, guns, and geese harvested. One of the hunters provided a tip to the ECO concerning the shooting of a swan earlier in the day. ECO Wilson contacted ECO Stan Winnick to see if he could assist with evidence collection. The two officers then canvassed the area. A resident told the officers his son-in-law was hunting with a friend that morning and that they had shot a snow goose. He provided the name and address. ECOs Wilson and Winnick then carefully walked the field and collected a spent shotgun shell. With this information and evidence, the officers tracked down the man, who admitted that he "had made a mistake." The subject told the ECOs he thought the bird was a snow goose, but when he got home and did some research, he realized it was a tundra swan. The man disposed of the carcass down a dirt road. Also known as a whistling swan, the tundra swan is a protected species for which there is no hunting season. The birds nest in the artic and are only found in New York during the winter periods of migration. ECOs Wilson and Winnick issued the hunter three summonses for taking a migratory bird out of season, illegally taking a protected species, and unlawful disposal of solid waste.

ECO Wilson with the discarded tundra swan carcass
ECO Wilson with the discarded tundra swan carcass

As Advertised on Facebook - Oneida County
On March 4, ECOs Jeff Hull and Rob Howe were on patrol in the town of Lee when they observed two snowmobiles crossing in front of them. The first snowmobile had an expired registration sticker, so the officers stopped the snowmobiles. In talking to the owners of both snowmobiles and checking with DMV, the ECOs determined neither was registered or insured. After issuing both riders summonses for operating unregistered and uninsured snowmobiles, the officers went on their way. However, a short while later, the ECOs were alerted that the riders had posted a picture of the stop on Facebook. They were pleased with the post, as ECOs cover a large territory and posts like these help spread the word that although the riding season may be nearing its end, officers are still out patrolling.

Facebook image of ECOs doing their job, posted by the snowmobilers
Facebook image of ECOs doing their job, posted by the snowmobilers

Caged Friends - Rockland County
On March 5, ECO Corey Hornicek received a complaint in the village of Sloatsburg regarding a resident and his "pet" gray squirrel. Upon arrival, ECO Hornicek was greeted by a Ramapo Police Officer who explained that a male subject had been living at the residence and was keeping a gray squirrel in his basement apartment. The subject was cooperative, and ECO Hornicek was surprised to find both a gray squirrel and a house cat in the same cage. He explained to the subject that the gray squirrel is a protected species and that he is not allowed to keep it as a pet. One ticket was issued for possession of a wild animal without a permit, returnable to the Village of Sloatsburg Court. The squirrel was released back into the wild.

Squirrel and house cat sharing a cage
Squirrel and house cat sharing a cage

Out of Season Striped Bass - Westchester County
While on patrol on March 8, ECO Craig Tompkins spotted three fishermen along the shores of the Hudson River in Peekskill. Striped bass have been running strong but the season is not open until April 1. ECO Tompkins observed the fishermen for a short period of time from a distance. He watched one of the fishermen catch a striped bass and bury it in a small pile of snow. Two more striped bass were placed underneath the nearby boardwalk a short time later. ECO Tompkins approached the fishermen and asked if they had any luck, to which they responded "no." After ECO Tompkins retrieved the three fish from their hiding places, one of the fishermen admitted to catching all three fish. The offending fisherman was issued two tickets, one for possession of striped bass out of season and one for possessing over the daily limit of striped bass. Both tickets are returnable to City of Peekskill Court.

Three seized striped bass
Three seized striped bass

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