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For Release: Wednesday, July 31, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-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:

Osprey Rescued from Burning Nest - Richmond County
On July 17, ECO Taylor Della Rocco was called to Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island to assist with an injured osprey. The osprey's nest was atop a telephone pole when a pair of live wires set the nest on fire. FDNY responded to the fire and ECO Della Rocco assisted with rescuing the young osprey. Although the juvenile osprey had some burnt feathers, it was healthy enough to fly away without difficulty. ECO Brendan Dickson arrived and the ECOs searched the surrounding area for any other ospreys that could have been affected by the fire. The officers located a second osprey nearby with serious burns and lost feathers, unable to fly. The ECOs captured and safely transported the injured osprey to The Raptor Trust in New Jersey for rehabilitation, where it is recovering. The other juvenile is being monitored in its natural habitat to ensure it has no lingering effects from its injuries.

Leadership and Law Academy Outreach - Orange County
On July 17, ECOs Ricky Wood and Corey Hornicek attended the annual Leadership and Law outreach program at Pine Bush High School, an elective program focusing on government, economics, and the criminal justice system that students attend for school credit. The 14-day paramilitary program is taught by Town of Crawford Police Officers, United States Army personnel, and high school social studies teachers. During their presentation, ECOs Wood and Hornicek brought K-9 Deming and demonstrated bear meat detection, spent shell casing detection, and police dog obedience training. The officers also shared a brief history of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, who have been serving New York since 1880, and answered students' questions. The class gives each student a full awareness of the variety of first responder and law enforcement jobs offered throughout the state.

Students sitting in the grass while an ECO and his dog answer questions with an ECO Police vehical in the foreground
ECO Wood and K-9 Deming answering questions

Trapped Blue Heron - Delaware County
On the evening of July 19, ECO Nathan Doig responded to a call at Columbia Lake in the town of Deposit for a blue heron stuck in a beaver trap. Upon his arrival, a licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator permitted to have a beaver trap was in the process of releasing the heron. ECO Doig checked on the heron the following day and captured the bird, which turned out to have suffered a broken leg. The officer brought it to Friends of the Feathered and Furry rehabilitators, who were able to splint the leg. The bird is expected to be released when it has fully recovered. No charges were filed against the nuisance trapper.

A great blue heron standing tall in a beige crate with a splinted leg
Great Blue Heron with splinted leg

Campground Chaos - Warren County
Between July 20 and 22, ECOs responded to several complaints of an intoxicated subject causing a disturbance and arguing with his girlfriend at the Hearthstone Point State Campsite in Lake George. On July 22, ECOs evicted the man from the campground. On July 25, ECO Marcia Goodrich along with Lts. Rob Higgins and Ben Bramlage responded to a report that he had returned to the campground. They found his girlfriend's campsite vacant but a nearby camper advised the officers that the man had fled as patrol vehicles approached. The subject was located by the officers a short time later hiding in a bathroom stall and was arrested for trespassing and campground violations. He was arraigned at the Lake George Town Court and remanded to the Warren County Jail. On July 27, ECO Matt Krug responded to assist Warren County Sheriff's Deputies with a subject causing a disturbance and damaging property in the Lake George Battleground State Campsite. ECO Krug arrived to find the same subject that had been arrested two days earlier at Hearthstone Point. His girlfriend had moved her campsite to the Battleground Campsite, where the subject went after being released from jail. The man was arrested, charged with Criminal Mischief and campground violations, and again sent to the Warren County Jail to await arraignment.

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