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For Release: Wednesday, October 23, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for 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:

Fool Me Once - Suffolk County
On Oct. 5, ECO Sean Rockefeller located an illegally baited tree stand in East Hampton. ECOs Jeremy Eastwood and Michael Unger checked the stand the following day and found a fresh gut pile nearby. A week later, ECO Rockefeller once again checked the tree stand in hopes of catching violators, but came up empty handed. While speaking with another hunter, the ECO learned that a white pickup truck had been seen in the area. ECO Rockefeller visited the site a short time later and spotted a truck that met the description. The officer snuck through the woods to view the tree stand and found two hunters sitting in it. He announced his presence, and after a short interview, one hunter admitted to shooting a small buck out of the tree stand on Oct. 5, and placing bait at the stand in the spring. Nine tickets were issued to the two hunters for violations, including hunting with the aid of bait, hunting after legal shooting hours, failure to wear back tag, placing a salt lick on lands inhabited by deer, failure to tag deer as required, and illegally taking the small buck. In addition, two compound bows, one trail camera, a mineral block, and a set of antlers were seized. All tickets are returnable to the East Hampton Town Court.

ECO kneeling in front of ECO vehicle with antlers and weapons that were seized.
ECO Rockefeller with seized antlers and equipment in East Hampton

A Litany of Illegal Activity - Monroe County
On Oct. 10, ECOs Anthony Drahms and John Lifrieri were working the Genesee River salmon detail in the city of Rochester when they were contacted by the Rochester Police Department about a complaint at Seneca Park. A man had shot and killed a Mallard duck from his vehicle. At the time, ducks were not in season and the subject did not possess a hunting license. After further investigation, the ECOs charged the man with hunting waterfowl out of season, hunting wildlife from a motor vehicle, hunting wildlife from a public highway, discharging a firearm across a public highway, hunting waterfowl by means not specified (rifle), possession of a loaded long gun in a motor vehicle, hunting without a state small game hunting license, and Illegal taking of waterfowl. The Monroe County Sheriff's Department also issued an appearance ticket regarding hunting in a county park. All charges will be heard on Nov. 7 in Rochester City Court.

Hunting over Bait Leads to Illegal Buck - Delaware County
On Oct. 12, ECO Dustin Osborne received an anonymous tip about a subject who had possibly killed an illegal buck with a rifle during the early archery season in the town of Deposit. ECOs Osborne and Jared Woodin responded to a hunting camp where the officers discovered empty bags of bait scattered around and a gut pile in the front yard. No one was at the residence when the officers arrived. The ECOs examined the field-dressed deer's entrails and found a clean archery shot through its vitals, as well as a cocked crossbow hanging inside the front door. The officers also discovered additional bags of deer bait on the back of an ATV. Shortly after the ECOs arrived, a subject returned to the camp with an eight-point buck, which he admitted he shot over a bait pile with a crossbow earlier that day. Crossbows are not a legal implement for hunting big game during early archery season. ECOs Osborne and Woodin seized the deer and issued the subject tickets for killing a deer over bait, hunting over bait, and killing a deer by means not specified. The subject was immediately arraigned in the Town of Deposit Court, where he paid a penalty for his violations.

Two ECOs kneeling in front of their vehicle with seized deer carcass on the ground
ECOs Dustin Osborne and Jared Woodin with illegally taken buck

Officers Assist Local Oyster Farmer - Suffolk County
On Oct. 13, ECO Justanna Bohling assisted Blue Island Oyster Farms in recovering floating oyster bags that washed up on the north shore of Robert Moses State Park. The bags had broken free during the two-day storm that hit New York and portions of Long Island that week. The oyster farm owner was thankful for the assistance in receiving his oyster bags back in one piece.

Oyster bags on the ground in a parking lot near where they washed up on shore
Oyster Bags recovered after Long Island's stormy weather

Holiday Striped Bass - Putnam County
On Oct. 14, ECO Craig Tompkins was on patrol on the Hudson River checking Columbus Day holiday weekend fishing activity. Several anglers were taking advantage of the warm weather and getting in their last bit of fishing before the cold weather hits. After checking several anglers pursuing carp, ECO Tompkins observed a group of six anglers placing small fish in an orange bucket. The ECO moved in to check the group and as he did, one of the women in the group quickly sat on the bucket. After checking fishing licenses, ECO Tompkins asked to look in the bucket and found 14 Striped Bass, all under the 18-inch minimum size limit. Three of the anglers admitted to catching the fish and were issued two tickets each for possession of undersized fish and over the daily limit of Striped Bass. A majority of the Striped Bass were alive and returned to the Hudson River. All tickets are currently pending in the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Court.

Several small striped bass on the ground where they were measured, all undersized
Undersized and over-the-limit stripers in Putnam County

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