Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, April 18, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late March to Early April

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:

Final Farewell to One of New York's Original Game Wardens - Suffolk County
ECO Frederick "Freddy" Pradon served with DEC's Division of Law Enforcement in Region 1 from 1959 to 1985. ECO Pradon started his career as a Game Protector for the New York Conservation Department in 1959. His career transcended the period of time when these officers were called Game Protectors to the current-day ECOs. Through all of the changes in duties, ECO Pradon remained the consummate "Game Warden." He passed away on March 30, and was laid to rest on April 5 in Calverton National Cemetery. ECOs Brian Farrish, Emma Carpenter, Kyle Bevis, and Jeremy Eastwood escorted the funeral procession for ECO Pradon to his final resting place. ECO Matt Burdick played the bagpipes during the services at the cemetery.

ECO's around the casket with an american flag on it
ECO's standing in a line with a bagpiper playing paying respects
Officers pay respects to retired ECO Pradon

Illegal Waterfowl Shooting - Wyoming County
On March 31, ECO RJ Ward responded to a complaint in the town of Gainesville that someone had shot and killed a hooded merganser in a small farm pond across the road from the caller's residence. The caller spotted a vehicle pull onto a farm road adjacent to the pond; the passenger in the vehicle fired several rounds. Both occupants then exited the vehicle and fired an additional round at the merganser. The subjects left the area before the complainant obtained any information other than a description of the vehicle. ECO Ward responded to the scene, collected the merganser, and located several 12 gauge shotgun casings. While the officer was interviewing nearby residents, he observed a vehicle matching the description drive by and attempt to flee. ECO Ward gave chase, stopped the vehicle, and interviewed the occupants. The subjects admitted to firing several rounds at Canada Geese from the passenger seat, and when the geese flew away, only the merganser remained and they used the shotgun to dispatch it. The officer collected a shotgun between the front seats, a rifle in the back seat, and another loaded rifle in the back of the truck. The subjects were charged with possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, taking wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle, hunting with an autoloader capable of holding more than six rounds, hunting waterfowl during the closed season, hunting waterfowl without a duck stamp, failure to hunt waterfowl with non-toxic projectiles, and wanton waste.

ECO standing by an ECO police truck
ECO Ward with the illegally killed merganser

April Fool's Stripers - Queens County
On April 1 at approximately 1 a.m., ECOs Matthew Thibodeau, Zachary Kochanowski, and Ryan Wing responded to an anonymous tip that several fishermen under the Whitestone Bridge in Queens County were keeping short striped bass although the season is closed. When the ECOs arrived, they found two men on a side street loading fishing gear into the back of their vehicle. The fishermen admitted to fishing and showed the ECOs six striped bass ranging in size from 12 to 23 inches in length. While issuing the two men summonses for possessing striped bass out of season, the ECOs kept watch over another pickup truck parked down the street. The officers approached the truck and found a man hiding inside who admitted to possessing two striped bass. The third fisherman was issued summonses for possessing striped bass out of season and failure to have a valid marine registration. All of the summonses issued are returnable to Queens Criminal Court in June.

ECO's posing for a picture with siezed striped bass
ECOs with illegally taken striped bass

A Mixed Basket on Easter - Ulster County
On April 1, the opening day of trout season, ECOs Jason Smith and Lucas Palmateer planned an Easter Sunday patrol looking for freshwater fishing violations in Ulster County. The officers interacted with several law-abiding anglers on Plattekill Creek, Beaver Kill, and Esopus Creek before receiving a call about a suspected diseased raccoon in a chicken coop in the town of Shawangunk. After resolving the raccoon complaint, the officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle. During the traffic stop, the officers spotted large flames and smoke billowing from a structure. The ECOs issued the driver a warning, sped to the scene of the fire, and contacted Ulster County 911 to request for fire department personnel. As the officers arrived, several people were spotted fleeing from a large shed. ECO Smith cleared the house and property. Several small explosions could be seen and heard coming from the shed, and the homeowner advised the officers of gas cans and motorcycles inside. The fire department arrived on scene and extinguished the blaze with no damage to the residence. The homeowner, who admitted to burning brush adjacent to the shed, was issued an appearance ticket for unlawful open burning during the burning ban, which is in effect from March 16 through May 14.

a fire off a street caused by illegal bush burning
Illegal brush burning causes fire

Snowy Day Doesn't Keep the Poachers Away - Westchester County
On April 2, ECO Kevin Wamsley was conducting patrol along the Hudson River. Striped bass season had opened the day before above the George Washington Bridge. Many fishermen were out at a popular fishing spot. ECO Wamsley made his way down the trail to check the fishermen at the secluded park, when he encountered a man walking up the trail carrying a large striper. The fish was 31 inches long, outside of the legal size for striped bass above the George Washington Bridge. The man was issued a summons for taking a fish out of the legal slot size. ECO Aaron Bonilla met ECO Wamsley later in the day and the two officers found five individuals, three of whom were fishing. The men had two striped bass on a stringer of legal size. ECO Wamsley checked around the snowy bank and discovered another striper stuffed in the rocks. One of the individuals who was not fishing admitted to catching the fish and hiding it because he did not have a fishing license. ECO Wamsley continued to investigate and discovered a second striped bass hidden under a rock nearby, which the subject admitted to catching and hiding. The man was issued two tickets, one for taking over the limit striped bass and one for fishing without a marine registration. The fish were seized, and all of the tickets are pending in the Village of Buchanan Court.

three stripers on the snowy ground
Illegally caught stripers seized on a snowy day
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