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For Release: Thursday, October 3, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid- to Late September

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:

A Lightly Toasted Breakfast - Monroe County
On the morning of Sept. 12, ECO John Lutz responded to Rush-Henrietta Senior High School for a complaint of a nuisance raccoon on school grounds. Upon arrival, ECO Lutz met with school security who had located a raccoon sleeping outside an entrance door. School was in session at the time, so the ECO quickly and quietly worked with school security personnel to trap the animal. Using a lightly toasted bagel from the school cafeteria as bait, ECO Lutz was able to coax the raccoon safely into the trap without further incident. Once secured in the trap, the healthy raccoon enjoyed a free breakfast before being relocated to a less populated area.

Raccoon in a live trap made of metal with a bagel inside also
The Raccoon and the bagel

Annual Conservation Field Days - Monroe County
ECOs John Lutz, Evan McFee, and Eoin Snowdon participated in the annual Monroe County Conservation Field Days from Sept. 17 to 19, at Ellison Park in the town of Penfield. The interactive environmental education event draws classes of 5th graders from schools across Monroe County. ECO Lutz challenged the students with a conservation experiment and each officer gave six, 20-minute presentations to students focusing on issues regarding the environment, conservation, wildlife, and extinct animals.

Kids under a pavilion while an ECO shows them different animal hides
ECO Lutz with students at the Field Days event

Afield and Afoul - Franklin County
On Sept. 21, ECO Jennifer Okonuk checked several migratory bird hunters in northern Franklin County during the early goose and youth waterfowl hunt. One group of hunters from Maine was guided by a licensed guide outfitter, but three of the hunters failed to have their required New York Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. The licensed guide also failed to possess a valid hunting license. None of the hunters had their guns plugged as required, and the guns were all capable of holding more than three shells. ECO Okonuk educated the hunters on the early goose regulations. One hunter was issued a ticket for failure to carry a HIP number, two hunters were issued tickets for failure to have a HIP number, and the guide was issued two tickets, one for hunting small game without a license and one for possessing a shotgun capable of holding more than three rounds.

Not a Dump - Ulster County
On Sept. 24, ECO Jeannette Bastedo responded to a complaint of illegally dumped garbage in the town of Wawarsing. The owner of the property where the garbage was dumped provided a description of a truck and trailer he saw leaving the area. ECO Bastedo went through several bags of the garbage and found pieces of mail. She responded to the address on the mail to find a truck and trailer matching the description provided. The owner of the garbage had hired men to bring the materials to a transfer station, but they dumped it on private property instead. One individual was issued a ticket for illegal disposal of solid waste, with the ticket returnable to the Town of Wawarsing Court; the subject was also ordered to return to where the garbage was dumped to clean up and dispose of the materials properly.

Multiple black garbage bags filled with trash in the middle of a field
Garbage dumped in the town of Wawarsing

Poachers Kill Out-of-Season Buck - Oneida County
On Sept. 27, ECO Spencer Noyes responded to a complaint of two men carrying rifles and dragging a white tail buck out of the woods at the Oriskany Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Whitestown. Once on scene, Noyes found the two individuals attempting to flee on foot. The individuals had shed their camouflage clothing, but Noyes was able to catch up to the men and question the pair. During the interview, one of the men admitted that he accidentally shot the buck because he thought it was a squirrel. ECOs Steven Lakeman and John Gates arrived on scene to assist with the collection of evidence and statements. The shooter used a .308 caliber rifle with a scope to shoot the eight-point buck and the pair then stashed the buck in tall grass, hoping to recover it later. The individual who shot the deer brought the ECOs to the dead buck's location. The man was charged with taking deer out of season and taking deer by means not specified. Both charges are pending arraignment in the Town of Whitestown Court.

Two ECOs kneeling behind their vehicle with a large, dead dear that was confiscated.
ECO Noyes (L) and ECO Lakeman (R) With the illegal buck taken

Youth Hunters Score Successful Hunts - Putnam, Greene, Columbia, and Montgomery Counties
ECOs Craig Tompkins and Kevin Wamsley participated in the annual youth pheasant hunt in the town of Patterson this past weekend. Approximately 20 youths hunted and most were successful in harvesting pheasants. ECOs and local sportsmen served as mentors and some of the adults brought their dogs to aid the young hunters in flushing and retrieving their quarry. Putnam County Sportsmen's Federation members provided lunch to the attendees, who reported having a great day and were looking forward to going afield again.

ECO Michael Arp and Lt. Mike Terrell assisted the Greene County Sportsmen Federation with the annual youth pheasant hunt at the Sutton Farm in the town of Durham. All 10 of the youth hunters were successful in harvesting two birds each. Multiple generations of ECOs with 107 years of combined hunter education experience were on hand to assist.

ECO James Davey attended the youth hunt in Columbia County and helped a youth hunter bag his first pheasant.

ECO Chris Valenty assisted youth hunters in the first annual John Hays Youth Pheasant Hunt at the VFW Lodge in Fonda. All seven of the youth hunters harvested their bag limit of birds with the help of 10 adults and seven dogs.

ECOs pose for a picture with two young hunters and their take of pheasants and game for the day
ECOs Tompkins and Wamsley with successful youth hunters

ECOs pose for a photo with young hunters in front of a cabin in the woods
Youth Hunters in Greene County

ECO poses for a picutre with kids and their pheasants in a field
ECO Chris Valenty with youth hunters in Montgomery County

Women's Fishing Expo - Suffolk County
On Sept. 28, ECOs Justanna Bohling and Kaitlin Grady were among the women on hand to help with fishing demonstrations at the DEC I FISH NY Program's first-ever Women's Fishing Expo at Belmont Lake State Park. Participants learned basic and intermediate fishing skills, fly-fishing techniques, basic knots, fish filleting, fisheries management information, and other fishing-related activities. ECOs answered questions from the attendees about the work of DEC and careers in law enforcement.

Two women ECOs stand at an information table at the Women's Fishing Expo
ECOs Bohling and Grady at the DEC Law Enforcement Display

Two women ECOs post for a picture with a young girl who is ready to go fishing at the Women's Fishing expo
ECOs Bohling and Grady with an excited Girl Scout about to fish

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