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For Release: Wednesday, July 24, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early July

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, 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 DEC 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:

Waterfowl Identification Presentation at Montezuma Audubon Center - Wayne County
On July 11 and 12, Lt. Mark Colesante and ECO Scott Sincebaugh presented a waterfowl identification course for students participating in the week-long environmental day camp at the Montezuma Audubon Wildlife Center, a state-owned facility operated by DEC and the National Audubon Society. In addition to learning about the vast array of waterfowl in New York, campers were provided the opportunity to earn their hunter education certification, bow hunter education certification, and trapper education training.

ECOs posing for a picture with a group of kids
ECO Scott Sincebaugh and Lt. Mark Colesante with future waterfowl identification experts

ECOs posing for a picture with a group of young kids, some holding their bows for bowhunting
ECOs Josh Crain and Kevin Thomas with future bowhunters

Felled Pole Folly - Sullivan County
On July 12, ECO Tom Koepf responded to a construction site in Mountaindale for a complaint of someone illegally cutting down a utility pole. Workers at the site stated that there was a work order in with NYSEG to remove the pole, which no longer had wires attached, but that someone had prematurely knocked down the pole and buried it. When ECO Koepf arrived, he observed the pole covered with dirt but the transformers were protruding from the ground. The ECO also observed a small petroleum spill. Koepf called construction managers and later that day met with a subject who admitted to cutting and burying the pole on July 11, because he didn't want to wait for NYSEG to perform the work. Tickets were issued to the subject for unlawful disposal of solid waste, illegal discharge of petroleum, failure to immediately contain a petroleum discharge, and failure to notify DEC of a petroleum spill. DEC Spills Technician Brian Weeks responded to the site and informed the subject that he needed to immediately hire a cleanup contractor to clean the site and test for possible contamination.

Overnight Over-the-Limit and Undersized - Albany County
On July 12, ECO Wes Leubner patrolled Thompson's Lake boat launch in response to a complaint of people fishing at night taking trout under the legal size (12 inches on Thompson's Lake) and over the lake's limit of three trout per person, per day. ECO Leubner arrived just after dark and observed a group of boats out on the lake night fishing. ECO Leubner contacted ECO Melissa Burgess to assist, and together the ECOs waited for the boats to return to the launch. The officers' patience paid off as the occupants were found to be in possession of seven undersized trout and 14 trout over the legal limit. In addition, two of the fishermen did not have current fishing licenses, and one of the boats was not properly registered. Overall, eight tickets were issued to the group and the illegally possessed trout were seized.

Capsized Vessel - Lake Ontario
On July 13, Lt. Bruce Hummel and ECO Eoin Snowdon answered a United States Coast Guard (USCG) distress call for an overturned vessel approximately 12 miles off shore from Point Breeze. With a severe storm approaching, Hummel and Snowdon, along with the USCG and Monroe County Sheriff's Department Marine Unit, responded. USCG retrieved four occupants from the overturned vessel's hull, while ECOs checked the surrounding waters for any other possible victims. The Delaware-based crew had been participating in a cross-lake sailboat race when a sudden and intense storm caused conditions on the lake to become volatile quickly, resulting in the vessel capsizing. All four vessel occupants removed from the water declined medical treatment.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel on open water assisting an overturned sailboat
U.S. Coast Guard with overturned sailboat

Fishing License Checks Result in Warrant Arrests - Montgomery and Clinton Counties
On July 14, ECO Brian Willson and Lt. Jason DeAngelis checked a man and woman fishing at Lock 11 in the town of Florida. Neither subject had a valid fishing license and the man had four warrants for his arrest from both Amsterdam city and town courts for misdemeanors involving theft, trespassing, and child neglect. The man was taken into custody and turned over to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. He and the woman were also issued tickets for fishing without a license.

Also on July 14, ECOs Jeff Hovey and Brad Buffa were on a boat patrol on Union Falls Pond when they observed three individuals in a canoe, two of whom were fishing. As they approached the canoe, the occupants paddled to shore and exited the canoe. ECO Buffa found a loaded .22 caliber rifle in the canoe, with one of the occupants claiming he was going to use to use the rifle to hunt frogs. The subject produced a valid hunting license. However, one of the fishermen failed to produce any identification, and it was later found that he had an active bench warrant from Plattsburgh for criminal contempt of court. The subject was taken into custody, transported by vessel to the boat launch, and handed over to Plattsburgh City Police. Two tickets were also issued for fishing without a license and one ticket was issued for no personal flotation devices in the vessel.

Fawn in a Fence - Erie County
On July 14, ECO Scott Marshall responded to a call of a fawn stuck in a fence in the town of Clarence. ECO Marshall arrived to find that a fawn had attempted to jump over a fence and got its hind quarters caught between the slats. The officer contacted ECO Tim Machnica for assistance, and together they removed the fawn while Fuzzy Fawn Rehabilitation came to take the animal for treatment. The animal appeared to have only lost circulation to its back legs and was dehydrated. The fawn is expected to be released near the site of its rescue after several days of care.

A small fawn with its hind legs wedged between two slats of a white picket fence
Fawn stuck in the fence

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