Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, August 15, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early August

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:

Moose Movers - Clinton County
On August 1, ECO Matthew LaCroix received a call regarding a moose discovered by a farmer in an enclosed pasture outside Plattsburgh. The officer responded to the scene and found a young female moose in a fenced-in area that included a barn and several donkeys. DEC Bureau of Wildlife staff and several additional ECOs responded to assist in removing the moose from the pasture. Due to the proximity to residential and commercial areas close to Plattsburgh, the officers determined that the moose should be relocated to a more suitable habitat. Bureau of Wildlife personnel chemically immobilized the moose while ECOs provided traffic control, site security, and assisted in lifting the moose from the field into the transport vehicle. The moose was successfully relocated to a remote area of the Adirondacks and was last seen entering the woods in good health.

ECO Lacroix and DEC wildlife staff tending to moose before release
ECO Lacroix and DEC wildlife staff tending to moose
before release

Watch Where You Step - Rockland County
On Aug. 2, ECO Corey Hornicek was patrolling in Stony Point when he noticed a couple of fishermen wearing waders standing in a small public pond. After observing for some time, ECO Hornicek approached the two young men and asked if they could come ashore to show him their fishing licenses. The subjects were happy to show their licenses and pictures of the fish they had caught. One had caught a Chain Pickerel and the other a small Largemouth Bass, both of which were released. As the ECO began to leave, one of the gentleman calmly told the officers about a "pretty cool" snake coiled up not far from where ECO Hornicek was standing. ECO Hornicek carefully went in for a closer look and identified the snake as a Northern Copperhead, one of New York's three native venomous snakes species.

Northern Copperhead snake in the weeds
Northern Copperhead snake in the weeds

Two Times the Outreach - Sullivan County
On Aug. 3, ECOs Ricky Wood and Tom Koepf conducted an outreach event for a large group of children at DEC's Camp DeBruce with a focus on the DEC K-9 Unit. The children watched K-9 Deming locate a spent shell casing and detect hidden striped bass. Later that same day, the two ECOs responded to a septic complaint at a seasonal summer camp in the town of Fallsburg. The officers didn't observe any violations, but ECO Wood took the opportunity to speak to a group of young campers curious about his job duties and conservation work.

Illegal Cast Netting - Oneida County
On Aug. 5, ECO Rob Howe was patrolling near the Mohawk River in Utica when he noticed a man fishing with a cast net, which is illegal. ECO Howe watched the man from a distance and approached him when he returned to his car. The subject was found to be in possession of 18 sunfish illegally taken with a net and eight black bass (smallmouth and largemouth). The bass were all under the 12-inch limit. Four of the bass were only two to three inches in length. Soon after, ECO Howe checked another group of fishermen that had undersize bass. The officer remained in the area waiting for one remaining fisherman to come back to his vehicle. Upon contact with this fisherman, ECO Howe discovered another cast net and a bag of small fish, 34 of which were bass. Multiple tickets were issued to several people for undersize and over the limit bass and for fishing by means other than angling. The cases are pending in the City of Utica Court.

Illegal fish taken in Utica
Illegal fish taken in Utica

Tip a Canoe? Flies Can, Too - Franklin County
On Aug. 8, ECO James Cranker was conducting a boat patrol on Lower Saranac Lake in Ampersand Bay when he encountered two subjects wading in the water next to their capsized canoe. Both paddlers were wearing life jackets and were unharmed. The two subjects safely got into the patrol boat, and ECO Cranker towed their swamped canoe back to the DEC boat launch. When asked what happened, one canoer said she was swatting at a fly when the canoe tipped and threw them in. Back at shore, the paddlers decided to call it a day and discontinue their canoe trip, a lesson in physics and flies learned.

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