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For Release: Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ECO Mark Colesante Honored As Top New York Wildlife Conservation Officer

Cayuga County Officer Receives Officer of the Year Award for Outstanding Service

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Mark Colesante of Auburn, Cayuga County, received the 2014 "Officer of the Year" award from the Shikar-Safari Club International in a ceremony hosted by long-time Club member Robert Stackler, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

"ECO Colesante has proven his true commitment to protecting our state's natural resources," said Commissioner Martens. "Officer Colesante is a true asset to DEC's Division of Law Enforcement and serves as an advocate of the environment. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor from Shikar-Safari Club International."

Shikar-Safari Club International was founded in 1952 by an international group of hunters interested in exchanging ideas about the sport. Each year the club sponsors an award for the Wildlife Conservation Police Officer of the Year in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces and the territories of both nations, acknowledging the important part ECOs play in local, national, and international wildlife conservation.

ECO Colesante grew up in Oswego County and attended Nazareth College, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. He attended and graduated from the 14th Basic Academy for Uniformed Officers, a twenty-six week residential police academy held at SUNY Oswego in 2002. Following graduation, Mark was assigned to DEC's Region 1 and patrolled Suffolk County until he transferred to DEC's Region 7 and Cayuga County in 2005. Serving amongst New York's 270 uniformed ECOs, Colesante's primary responsibility is enforcing the state's Environmental Conservation Law. This includes investigating hunting, fishing and trapping activity, releases of petroleum, asbestos and other hazardous substances, water pollution, wetland damage, timber theft and wild animals unlawfully kept as pets.

The Club recognized ECO Colesante for numerous successful fish and wildlife investigations and his dedication to public outreach efforts. For the last five years ECO Colesante has assisted youth hunts during the youth turkey and youth waterfowl seasons. His work with other ECOs and the Cayuga County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs has provided hunting opportunities to many young hunters who do not have a family member or other adult to take them afield. Mark is also the first recipient of the DEC Division of Fish Wildlife and Marine Resources' Conservation Innovation Award for his work on establishing a volunteer-based, DEC cooperative program to haze cormorants on Oneida Lake.

ECO Colesante is a certified Division of Criminal Justice Services Police Instructor in Emergency Vehicle Operation (EVOC) and Seaborne Emergency Vehicle Operation (SEVOC). He also teaches the Division's Waterfowl Identification course. He has participated in training ECO and Forest Ranger recruits during Basic Schools for Uniformed Officers.

Mark currently resides in Auburn, Cayuga County with his wife Colleen and his two-year-old son Michael.

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