For Release: Monday, March 11, 2013
Sullivan County Environmental Conservation Officer Selected For National Wild Turkey Federation Law Enforcement Achievement Award
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) selected Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Rick Wood to receive its 2012 Annual Law Enforcement Achievement Award, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.
"ECO Rick Wood is a valuable asset to DEC's dedicated Division of Law Enforcement," said Commissioner Martens. "Last year, Officer Wood diligently, professionally and fairly brought a successful conviction in a case where individuals chose to go outside the law using the state's great fish and wildlife resources for their selfish personal gains."
ECO Wood was nominated for the award by his fellow Conservation Officers and selected by a committee of representatives from the NWTF and the Environmental Conservation Police. The NWTF is a member grassroots, nonprofit organization with more than 500,000 members in all 50 states, Canada, and 11 foreign countries. It supports scientific wildlife management on public, private and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional North American sport.
ECO Wood's most noteworthy and substantial case dealt with the illegal hunting and commercialization of white tail deer that will have a significant impact on protecting the resource. On January 27, 2012, Officer Wood was at his residence, monitoring the Sullivan and Ulster counties' 911 dispatch, when a call polled for any unit near Diamond Road in Ellenville for shots fired and possible deer jacking. New York City's Department of Environmental Police (NYCDEP) responded and Officer Wood contacted them directly to advise that he was en route. NYCDEP officers apprehended the vehicle and Officer Wood arrived within minutes and found a recently killed deer in the bed of the pick-up and a loaded .22 mag rifle in the front seat. Alongside the rifle was a large envelope containing flyers that advertised the Fourth Annual Venison dinner in the Bronx with a cost of $70 per person.
Officer Wood requested and received a search warrant for the subject's weekend home and contacted another ECO for assistance. The Officers secured the residence. The next morning the search warrant was executed and 17 large bags of meat were found in two freezers in the basement totaling 320 lbs. of meat, along with the head and capes of two 8-points bucks. A total of five more deer were discovered. The residence had a large bait pile behind the house with a video camera and live feed to a monitor in the living room where the occupants could watch television and the monitor at the same time. When they observed a deer on the bait pile, it could be shot directly from the residence.
On February 3, 2012, after the detailed description of the case by Officer Wood, the defendants agreed to a penalty to satisfy all charges, of $4,000 each, totaling $8,000. This case was highlighted in the 2012-2013 NYS Hunting & Trapping Guide, with a picture of the evidence and case description.
ECO Wood made himself available prior to the start of his shift at the investigation at the scene including working with and having the respect of another agency, interviewing the suspects, following through with obtaining a search warrant, and successfully negotiating with the legal representation of the two defendants. He brought this important case, with its ramification of illegal commercialization of deer, to a successful conclusion.
ECOs are sworn police officers involved in the enforcement of the Environmental Conservation Law in order to protect the state's natural resources and environment. They investigate complaints in order to detect and document both state and federal Environmental Conservation Law felonies, misdemeanors and violations. ECOs meet with school groups, service groups, regulated community and hunter's and angler's clubs to promote compliance with environmental conservation law, which includes fish and wildlife law.
By protecting natural resources, ECOs are playing an important role in supporting Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, which is designed to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, expanding fishing clinics and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.