Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early to Mid-May

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:

Social Media Post Leads to Tickets - Monroe County
On the morning of May 4, ECOs Spencer Noyes and Evan McFee patrolled a section of the Genesee River in Rochester after receiving a tip from a social media post that claimed people had been keeping smallmouth bass in recent days, well before the opening of the season. Images from the post showed individuals posing with numerous bass lined up on the shoreline. The ECOs positioned themselves to watch fishing activity in the river and noticed one individual with a white five-gallon bucket with a large fish tail sticking out. The fisherman made his way back to the parking area with the bucket. ECOs Noyes and McFee approached the man and discovered he had caught and kept both a large bass and a northern pike, both out of season. The fisherman claimed he didn't know the rules and that he had never "caught one so big," with the bass weighing in at just over six pounds and measuring 22 inches in length. The subject said he was going to take his chances breaking the law, as he planned to get the trophy bass mounted. The individual turned out to be one of the fisherman in the internet photos. He was issued two tickets for taking fish out of season, returnable to the City of Rochester Court.

ECOs McFee and Noyes with illegally caught northern pike and bass
ECOs McFee and Noyes with illegally caught northern
pike and bass

State Record Crappie - Cattaraugus County
On May 6, ECO Nate Mead was contacted by fisherman William Wightman of South Dayton stating that he had caught a possible new state record black crappie from Lake Flavia in Cattaraugus County. He asked ECO Mead to check the validity of his catch so that he could begin the records submission. ECO Mead was present for the weigh in and measured the fish, an impressive 18.5 inches long crappie weighing in at 4.1 pounds and exceeding the 1998 state record by five ounces. On May 9, DEC biologist Scott Cornett from the Allegany office confirmed ECO Mead's identification of the fish as a black crappie.

ECO Mead with William Wightman and the record-setting Black Crappie
ECO Mead with William Wightman and the
record-setting Black Crappie

Busy Day Busting Illegal Turkey Hunters - Cattaraugus County
On May 6, ECO Robert Nosal investigated a report in the town of Otto regarding a man shooting a turkey from his vehicle. Witnesses said they observed a vehicle pull to the shoulder of the road and then heard two gunshots. The vehicle then drove past the witnesses' residence and back to the scene, at which time the hunter was then confronted by the property owner. The subject left but not before his license plate was recorded. ECO Nosal located and interviewed the suspect and was shown the dead turkey recovered from a ravine at the scene. The man admitted to shooting the turkey from his vehicle and was charged with illegally taking a wild turkey, possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, and discharging a firearm from a public highway. The subject is set to appear in the Town of Otto Court.

After issuing those tickets, ECO Nosal investigated another complaint in the town of Yorkshire, where it was alleged that a man killed a hen turkey, which is illegal to take during the spring season. The complainant showed ECO Nosal a picture of a man caught on his game camera on May 3, carrying a long gun and what appeared to be a hen turkey. The complainant recognized the hunter, leading ECO Nosal to track down and interview a Colden area man. After a brief interview, the man confessed to killing the hen. The subject gave ECO Nosal part of the turkey from a freezer and dug up the head and feathers buried in a plastic bag in the yard. ECO Nosal checked the remains for signs of a beard and confirmed what he had already suspected, that the bird was a hen. Additionally, ECO Nosal determined that the hunter did not have a valid turkey permit. The man was charged with killing a hen turkey out of season and hunting turkey without a permit. He is scheduled to appear in the Town of Yorkshire Court.

ECOs Patrol with U.S. Coast Guard - Suffolk County
On May 9, ECOs Ike Bobseine and Rob McCabe joined the U.S. Coast Guard out of Montauk for a combined patrol on Great Peconic Bay. The patrol included radiation screening of vessels, fishing regulation checks, and boating safety compliance checks. Throughout the day, multiple vessels were boarded and inspected. The officers found both equipment and fishing violations. While aboard one vessel with four passengers, the ECOs determined that the fisherman, who claimed he was fishing commercially, was using his commercial license to keep short fluke for his friends who were fishing recreationally. When asked to produce the required vessel trip report for commercial fisherman, the subject was unable to do so. He was issued a ticket returnable to East Hampton Town Court.

Joint DLE and U.S.C.G. patrol
Joint DLE and U.S.C.G. patrol

Rabbits out of Season and an Opossum - Orange County
On May 12, ECO Adam Johnson received a call from the New York State Police just after midnight asking for assistance in the town of Crawford for possible small game hunting violations and shots fired in a residential neighborhood. ECO Johnson and ECO Jason Smith responded and met with a Crawford Police Officer who had secured the scene. The ECOs found a skinned and butchered rabbit on the porch, and the suspect quickly admitted to shooting three rabbits and attempting to shoot an opossum near his house. The subject showed the ECOs where he was shooting at the opossum and they observed numerous spent shell casings in the backyard of the residence. After measuring the shooting locations, the officers determined the subject fired multiple rounds within 500 feet of a nearby residence. The rabbit meat was seized from a freezer at the residence. All small game hunting seasons are currently closed. The subject was issued multiple summons for illegally taking protected wildlife, taking small game out of season, hunting without a license, and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. The shotgun and ammunition used to take the rabbits were seized as evidence, and all the summons are returnable to the Town of Crawford Court.

Your Goose is Cooked - Schuyler County
On the morning of May 12, ECOs Ron Gross and Travis McNamara were patrolling for turkey hunting violations in Schuyler County when a gray pickup truck approached them. The driver was wearing full camo, so the ECOs asked if he had any luck that morning. The driver said he hadn't, but appeared nervous. The ECOs spotted a .17 caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun laying across the center console of the truck. Both were loaded. The officers also found another unloaded shotgun on the back seat of the truck. ECO Gross observed a recently killed Canada Goose in the bed of the truck. The driver admitted that he had just shot the goose with the .17 caliber rifle. The ECOs took the driver back to the field where the goose was shot and determined that although it had not been shot from inside of the truck, the hunter did not have permission to be on the property. He was issued two tickets for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and one ticket each for trespassing on posted property, illegally killing a goose out of season, and Illegally killing a goose with a rifle, all returnable to Town of Tyrone Court.

ECOs Gross and McNamara with illegally killed Canada Goose and seized firearms
ECOs Gross and McNamara with illegally killed Canada
Goose and seized firearms

Stealthy Approach Leads to Summonses - Oneida County
On May 13, ECO John Gates was patrolling Hinckley Reservoir in Remsen when a fisherman informed him that people were keeping well over the limit of trout at the base of the reservoir's dam. ECO Gates, using a canoe he had in the back of his patrol vehicle, approached the two unsuspecting fishermen by water. The pair were in possession of 12 trout in an area with a limit of three trout over 12 inches in length, per person per day. Only one of the trout was of legal length. ECO Gates issued both fishermen two summonses, one each for taking over the limit of trout and one for possession of undersized fish. The summonses are returnable to the Town of Trenton Court.

Illegally caught trout seized by ECO Gates
Illegally caught trout seized by ECO Gates

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