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For Release: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early to Mid-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 has 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:

Season Opener Fishing Derby - Monroe County
On April 2, Lt. Bruce Hummel and ECOs Eoin Snowdon and John Rich participated in the annual season opening fishing derby at Powder Mills Park in the town of Perinton. This popular event has been enjoyed by generations of families for many years, and a number of young anglers came away with trophy catches.

Lt. Hummel with proud young anglers
Lt. Hummel with proud young anglers

Water Pollution - Richmond County
On April 7, ECOs Max Woyton and Michael Hameline were on routine patrol on Staten Island when they noticed a garden hose leading to a storm drain. The ECOs followed the hose to the backyard of a residential property and discovered that it was connected to a submersible pump in a small drainage pit. After further investigation, the officers determined that a septic overflow pipe was leaking into the pit, which was then being pumped into the storm drain. The homeowner was charged with a misdemeanor for pollution of the waters of the marine district, ordered to rectify the situation, and is scheduled to appear in Richmond County Criminal Court on June 15.

Septic overflow being pumped to a storm drain
Septic overflow being pumped to a storm drain

Pace University Outreach - Westchester County
On April 11, ECOs Dustin Dainack and Craig Tompkins spoke to a Conservation Law class at Pace University Law School about their roles in the world of environmental conservation. The class studied Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) all semester, and the professor was looking for the ECOs to provide insight into their day-to-day activities and enforcement of ECL. The officers spoke to the class of approximately 30 graduate and post-graduate students, including two international students from China, and fielded questions concerning the material the students have been studying during the semester.

ECOs with Pace students
ECOs with Pace students

Bag Full of Bass - Rockland County
On April 13, ECO Jeremy Fadden was on routine patrol along the Hudson River when he noticed two individuals walking along railroad tracks south of the Iona Island bird sanctuary. One man was carrying a large garbage bag and the other was toting multiple fishing poles. As the two men got closer, ECO Fadden stopped them and discovered that the garbage bag contained 18 illegally caught striped bass. The officer explained to the subjects that they are only able to keep one fish a day of the species. The ECO issued four tickets to the fishermen for taking in excess of daily limit, fishing without a license, and taking undersized species. All tickets are returnable to Stony Point Town Court.

18 illegal striped bass
18 illegal striped bass

"Used to Have a Trapping License" Is Not Good Enough - Saratoga County
On the evening of April 13, the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department responded to a 911 call for a dog caught in a foothold trap in the town of Milton. The caller's pit bull was found in a trap behind a neighbor's home. Sheriff's Deputies released the dog unharmed and contacted ECO Steve Shaw for a follow-up investigation. On April 14, ECO Shaw interviewed the neighboring property owner. He admitted to setting the trap behind his home. When asked if he had a trapping license, the man responded that he "used to." In addition, a decomposed deer carcass was placed next to the trap as bait. The property owner could not explain where the deer carcass originated. He was charged with unlawful possession of wildlife (the deer carcass), trapping without a license, and trapping out of season. All charges are pending in the Town of Milton Court.

The illegally set trap
The illegally set trap

Just Enough Evidence - Ulster County
On April 13, ECO Jason Smith received information about old furniture and other garbage disposed of at a state land access site in the town of Rochester. ECO Smith visited the area and found several pieces of furniture, cardboard boxes, and food waste. The officer found several phone numbers on a piece of paper in the pile of debris. ECO Smith worked with Investigator Josh Sulkey to find names associated with each phone number, and then patrolled to Sullivan County to interview an individual potentially involved. After being presented with the evidence, the man admitted to dumping the garbage using his father-in-law's truck and provided a written statement admitting to what he had done. The subject was issued a summons for unlawful disposal of solid waste returnable to the Town of Rochester Court.

Furniture and garbage left at state land access site
Furniture and garbage left at state land access site

Striper Season Starts Early - Richmond, Kings, Queens, and Bronx Counties
On April 14, ECOs Waldemar Auguscinski and Max Woyton began an overnight shift of recreational marine fishing enforcement for the opening of the striped bass season. The shift started quickly as the ECOs observed four fishermen in Staten Island catching striped bass before the season opened and hiding them in the sand. As the fishermen collected their gear and illegal fish, they were met by the officers. During a quick search of the area, the ECOs discovered 11 illegal striped bass, 10 of which were under the 28-inch minimum length. Next, the ECOs headed to Kings County where they quickly found four fishermen in possession of three undersized striped bass. An hour later, as the legal striper fishing season began, the ECOs encountered three individuals in Queens County that had already caught and kept 24 undersized bass. Another individual was found to be in possession of an additional undersized bass after being caught attempting to hide his catch. Finally, the ECOs headed to Bronx County and observed fishermen from a distance. ECO Woyton interviewed one group of five fishermen in possession of three short fish. ECO Auguscinski approached the other men, who attempted to throw a bag of six short stripers into the woods. ECOs found another group in possession of nine illegal fish. Over the course of the night's patrol, the ECOs issued a total of 30 summonses for possessing striped bass out of season, possession of undersized striped bass, possession of striped bass over the limit, failure to release fish without undue harm, possession of mutilated striped bass, and failure to carry a marine registry. The 57 confiscated striped bass were either donated to food banks or released back into the water.

ECO with 37 illegal striped bass
ECO with 37 illegal striped bass

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