Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, March 28, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-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:

Baby Bald Eagle Rescue - Rensselaer County
On March 6, ECO Jason Curinga received a call that a homeowner on State Rt. 22 in the town of Petersburg spotted an injured bird in her backyard. Once at the location, he found an injured baby bald eagle behind the house. ECO Curinga secured the bird in his truck and contacted North Country Wild Care to meet at a local emergency vet, where the eagle was examined and turned over to the rehabilitators. The rehabilitator reported this week that the eagle is in good health and recovering well.

Young Injured eagle on a snowcovered surface
ECO preparing eagle for transport to the wildlife rehabilitator
ECO Curinga prepares young eagle for
transport to wildlife rehabilitator

Illegal Sale of Wildlife - Erie County
On March 9, ECO Mark Mazurkiewicz investigated a report that an adult eastern spiny softshell turtle was being offered for sale for $49.99 in a pet store in the city of Buffalo. This type of turtle is protected in New York as a species of special concern and may not be possessed or sold without a permit. ECO Mazurkiewicz confirmed that there were no permits on file in Erie County. The animal was seized and will be given to an educational facility. The store was cited for possession of the turtle without a permit and for the unlawful commercialization of wildlife and faces fines up to $650.

Spiny softshell turtle for sale in Buffalo
Eastern spiny softshell turtle for sale in Buffalo

Selling Sliders in Flatbush - Kings County
On March 10, ECOs Zachary Kochanowski and Ryan Wing received an anonymous complaint about an individual selling turtles on the street on Flatbush Avenue. ECOs Wing and Kochanowski located the individual selling turtles as described. The turtles, identified as red eared sliders, were being sold for $8. More than 20 had been sold prior to the officers' arrival, and 26 more found in individual cases. The individual stated that he was buying the baby turtles for $1 directly from Florida through the mail. The ECOs advised the seller that in New York turtles cannot be sold with a carapace measuring less than four inches and ECO Kochanowski issued the individual a summons for illegal sale of undersized turtles, returnable to the Kings County Court. The turtles were seized and turned over to Turtle Rescue of Long Island, a DEC-licensed facility.

A bunch of small turtles in containers for sale
Red eared sliders for sale in Flatbush

Burning Down My House - Albany County
On March 11, ECO Kimberly Garnsey received a report of an individual performing a "controlled burn" of an abandoned house in the town of Berne. When ECO Garnsey arrived, the Berne Fire Department was working to extinguish the fire. ECO Garnsey spoke to the owner of the house, who stated he thought he could burn his house down as long as he reported it. ECO Garnsey informed the subject that this is not the case, and that he needed to get an excavator on scene to knock the house down so it could be extinguished. The owner of the house was issued a summons for unlawful open burning.

Fire department extinguishing a house fire
Berne Fire Department working to extinguish house fire

St. Patrick's Day Stripers - Rockland and Westchester County
On March 17, ECOs Adam Johnson, Jason Smith, and Lucas Palmateer conducted a plainclothes detail targeting striped bass fishing violations in Rockland County. At Haverstraw Beach State Park, ECOs Smith and Palmateer stopped two men in possession of three striped bass. One man was issued a ticket for taking striped bass out of season. ECO Johnson observed another subject catch a striped bass and hide it in the woods. When the ECOs approached the man, they found the fish hidden in a bag under a log. The subject was also issued a ticket for taking striped bass out of season. The ECOs moved to the Piermont Pier and again watched as one subject caught a striped bass and put it in a bucket in his car. A second subject hid a striped bass in a bag under a rock wall. Both subjects were issued tickets for taking striped bass out of season and failing to possess a marine registry. At Lents Cove Park, ECOs Aaron Bonilla and Charles Eyler III observed a fisherman catch a striped bass. When the ECOs approached, the fisherman quickly threw his striped bass into the river. Another fisherman nearby attempted to throw his fish into the water but it came up short, landing on the rocky shore. ECOs also checked a cooler in the area that contained an additional illegal striped bass. A total of three striped bass were seized and six tickets issued for various fishing violations. All tickets are returnable to the Village of Buchanan Court in April.

ECO's posing for a picture around the seized striped bass
ECO by car with seized fish on the ground
ECOs with eight illegal striped bass
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