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For Release: Wednesday, October 9, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late September to Early October

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 Nuisance or a Lie to Take a Large Buck? - Suffolk County
On the evening of Sept. 25, ECOs Jeremy Eastwood and Brian Farrish received text messages about a large buck that was allegedly shot on a nuisance permit in the town of Riverhead. A hunter was circulating a photo of himself posing with a massive whitetail buck to a group of local hunters on a group text. The next day, the officers located the subject and asked about the photo. The subject said it was a picture from last year sent as a brag, but his story quickly unraveled as the officers spotted numerous antlers in various states of decomposition at his farm house. He eventually came clean and produced the untagged massive buck from a cooler. The officers reviewed all the conditions of his nuisance permit, finding that many of the conditions were not being followed. The man failed to have a hunter's log available for inspection, failed to notify DEC Dispatch when utilizing the permit, and failed to turn in racks from antlered deer. The hunter was cited for the untagged deer and for violating DEC rules and regulations concerning permit conditions. Numerous additional sets of antlers were retrieved from the farm during the investigation.

Two ECOs post for a picture beside their trucks with a slew of deer antlers and skulls
ECOs Farrish and Eastwood and the deer parts that were illegally taken on a nuisance permit

Youth Pheasant Hunts - St. Lawrence County
On Sept. 28 and 29, the St. Lawrence Valley Sportsman Club and St. Lawrence Valley Dog Club in the town of Lisbon held two morning youth pheasant hunts at their club. ECO Mike Sherry assisted with the annual event and instructed the participants about gun and hunting safety. Dog club members brought their animals and took the youth out for their hunts with at least one veteran hunter accompanying. All 25 youth hunters had several attempts at harvesting pheasants, and many were successful. The club supplied food and drinks for the successful event.

ECOs in St. Lawrence County also partnered with the Borderline Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and DEC wildlife staff to offer youth ages 12 to 15 an opportunity to hunt waterfowl and pheasants at the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area. Mentors and parents volunteered to help the young hunters, and Dr. William Orlando and Mark Finely provided dogs to assist in the hunt. Youth waterfowl and pheasant hunts are free to participants thanks to the generosity and donations of the New York State Conservation Officer Association (NYCOA), St. Lawrence County Sportsmen Federation, Potsdam Elks Club, Hoot Owl Enterprises, Wal-Mart, and Runnings. Volunteer mentors included Michael Morgan, Tom Smith, Colby Bowman, Jason Murray, Mark Finely, retired ECO Bruce Perry, Brian Eddy and Dave Hamelin Jr. This year's outing was a great success with many of the youth hunters successfully taking birds and beginning what will hopefully be a lifelong pastime.

Two young hunters pose for a picture with their pheasants and mentor during the hunt A young hunter poses for a photo with their dog and mentor during the youth hunt a young hunter poses for a photo with her two mentors and pheasant
Youth pheasant hunters with mentors in St. Lawrence County

two young hunters pose with the waterfowl they hunted and their guns
Youth waterfowl hunters

Honoring One of Our Own - Suffolk County
Sept. 29 marked the 90th anniversary of the "End of Watch" for Game Protector William Cramer. ECO Chris DeRose and K-9 Cramer, who is named after the officer, visited his grave on the anniversary to pay their respects to the fallen officer. Game Protector Cramer was responsible for protecting the wildlife of Long Island and New York City and was murdered in 1929 while trying to apprehend poachers in Idlewild woods in Queens.

K-9 Cramer, a German Shepard, sits next to the gravestone of a former Game Protector
DEC K-9 Cramer at Game Protector William Cramer's grave

Trying Her Luck Early - Fulton County
On Oct. 1, ECOs Shane Manns and Steve Shaw conducted a patrol on a baited hunting stand they located a few days earlier. Fresh bait piles with scents and mineral blocks were observed in multiple areas during the previous check and a tree stand was placed adjacent to the scene. Upon arriving at the bait pile, ECOs found one individual hunting in the stand with a crossbow, which is not a legal hunting implement during the early bow season. The female hunter also did not hold a valid hunting license. She was issued tickets for hunting without a license, hunting with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, and illegally hunting with a crossbow during the closed season. All tickets are returnable to the Town of Perth Court.

The Case of the Wolf Dogs From West Virginia - Nassau County
On Oct. 4, ECO Zachary Prentice received a call from a Nassau County Police Officer concerning an individual in Hempstead that possessed two wolves. ECO Prentice met the officer at the residence, and once inside they found two large steel cages containing canines that resembled wolves. ECO Prentice contacted ECO Robert Kaufherr for assistance and the ECOs interviewed the owner. After examining documentation, the ECOs determined the canines were wolf hybrids that had been purchased in West Virginia, where it is currently legal to possess them, but possession of a wolf dog hybrid as a pet is prohibited in New York State. The wolves were seized and safely transported to a licensed facility. A DNA test will be administered to find the percentage of wolf hybridization. The owner was issued an appearance ticket for possession of wild animals without a permit, and the incident remains under investigation.

the wolf hybrids in large dog crates
Wolf hybrids in Hempstead

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