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For Release: Wednesday, May 30, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for 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:

Big Buck Case Solved - Jefferson County

On May 13, ECO Pete Jackson solved a hunting case that he had worked on for more than five months. In December 2017, he received a call from the owner of a storage unit facility in the town of Clayton. The caller had found the carcass of a large, 10-point buck on the edge of the property. With a possession tag still attached to its ear, the animal had been gutted and hidden behind some plywood. With the assistance of ECO Rob Johnson, the officers confirmed the deer had been shot with a muzzleloader. Using information from the tag, the officers identified a suspect living in a court-mandated rehabilitation facility outside the county. ECO Jackson interviewed the woman whose name was on the possession tag and she verified that the suspect had taken the deer. Since he did not have a hunting license, she said he had asked to use her tag. In early May 2018, ECO Jackson confirmed that the suspect was back living in Clayton. He located the suspect on May 13, and issued him tickets for hunting without a license, possessing hunting tags of another, and unlawfully taking big game. The case will be heard in the Town of Clayton Court.

ECO Jackson with illegally taken 10-point buck
ECO Jackson with illegally taken 10-point buck

Fallen Owl Found - Orange County

On May 15, ECO Will Chomicki received a call from a farmer in the town of Chester. The caller had found a juvenile owl at the base of a tree where it had apparently fallen from the nest. The farmer was concerned the bird would end up in traffic and he could not tell if the animal was injured from the fall. With guidance from a wildlife rehabilitator, ECO Chomicki determined the bird was a juvenile Great Horned Owl and did not appear to be injured. The owl was left on the property in a safe location. With the help of the local residents, ECO Chomicki constructed a temporary perch for the owl off the ground so the mother could tend to it.

The juvenile Great Horned Owl on the ground The juvenile Great Horned Owl and the temporary perch
The juvenile Great Horned Owl on the ground and the temporary perch

Exposed by the Tide - Bronx County

On May 17, ECOs Ryan Kelley and Taylor Della Rocco were patrolling in Bronx County when they observed five men fishing from the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. As the ECOs approached the anglers, the officers noticed nine striped bass, several shorter than the legal length, on stringers attached to bricks by the water's edge. The anglers originally had the fish in much deeper water, but as the tide receded, the fish were left exposed on shore. In all, four tickets were issued for possessing short striped bass and fishing without a marine registry. All charges are pending in Bronx Criminal Court.

A stringer of striped bass exposed by the receding tide
A stringer of striped bass exposed by the
receding tide

Under the Bridge - Suffolk County

During the evening of May 19, ECO Sean Rockefeller received a tip about three individuals fishing under the Rt. 114 bridge in the village of Sag Harbor and attempting to sell the fish in New York City. ECO Rockefeller approached the bridge on foot and located three individuals fishing. Watching from a distance, the officer observed one individual catch what appeared to be an undersized striped bass and hide it in a black garbage bag in some nearby tall grass. ECO Ike Bobseine responded to assist, and when ECO Rockefeller announced his presence, one of the startled fishermen attempted to hide his illegal catch in the rocks, just a few feet from ECO Bobseine. The officers found two porgies and one sea robin in a cooler, and when asked where the other fish were, the fishermen responded that there were no other fish. ECO Rockefeller walked to the tall grass and picked up one of the hidden fish. In total, the ECOs found five striped bass, all under the legal 17 inches in length. All three fishermen were written tickets for possessing undersized striped bass and possessing over the limit of striped bass, returnable to the Southampton Town Court on June 6.

ECO Rockefeller with five short striped bass hidden under the bridge in Sag Harbor
ECO Rockefeller with five short striped bass hidden
under the bridge in Sag Harbor

Outreach Participation - Sullivan and Dutchess Counties

On May 19, ECO Jon Walraven helped the Boy Scouts of Troop 31 earn their fly fishing merit badge. In earning the badge, the scouts learned how to use a fly fishing rod and reel, tie flies, and perform first aid, as well as trying their new skills fishing on the Neversink River. ECO Walraven shared a basic introduction to freshwater fishing laws and the role of ECOs protecting New York's natural resources. Also, on May 19 and 20, ECOs attended the Northeast Outdoor Show in Dutchess County to represent the agency. Vendors from around the region displayed the latest hunting and outdoor products. Popular attractions included the fishing pond, Lumberjack Classic, and the Ultimate Air Dogs. Officers Ricky Wood and Vernon Bauer performed a K-9 demonstration on wildlife meat detection and handler protection. ECOs also brought Division ATVs and snowmobiles to show the public some of the tools used in everyday patrols. Hundreds of people met and spoke with their local ECOs and enjoyed the festivities.

ECOs John Helmeyer and Craig Tompkins at the Northeast Outdoor Show ECO Jon Walraven with Boys Scouts from Troop 31
Left, ECOs John Helmeyer and Craig Tompkins at the Northeast Outdoor Show
Right, ECO Jon Walraven with Boys Scouts from Troop 31

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