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From the June 2007 Conservationist

ECO On Patrol

By Lt. Ken Didion

ECO on Patrol

A Wild Story-Clinton County
Environmental conservation officers recently executed a search warrant at a residence in Dannemora in response to a complaint from a local school. A school nurse had noticed severe scratches on a child's arm. The child had explained to the nurse that he had been scratched by one of five raccoons that his family had been harboring since the previous autumn. When ECO Daniel Darrah and wildlife staff arrived at the residence to investigate, the raccoons were nowhere to be found. The family had gotten wind of the impending visit and had removed the illegally possessed wildlife from their home. When ECO Darrah received information indicating the animals had been returned to the family, a search warrant was secured and executed at the residence. Two raccoons and a skunk were found in the home. In addition, the officers found several illegal firearms, several containers of prescription drugs that did not belong to members of the family, seven sets of New York State license plates, and a very large coin collection matching the description of one that had been stolen earlier in the year. The owner of the residence was arrested for several firearms violations. He was remanded to the county jail in lieu of $75,000 bail. His wife was cited for the unlawful possession of wildlife.

Bridge Rescue-Rensselaer County
On a late afternoon in May, Rensselaer County 911 reported that a 14-year-old girl was trapped on a railroad bridge that crossed the Hoosick River. ECO Scott Daly was close by and was the first to arrive. He found the girl at the midway point of the underside of the bridge. She had attempted to crawl the length of the underside of the bridge, but upon reaching the middle of the bridge had panicked and froze. She was perched 50 feet above the fast-moving water. Working with a Washington County sheriff's deputy and two Buskirk firemen, ECO Daly tied a harness around the terrified girl and had her don a life jacket. One of the firemen was lowered down to her by rope and he secured the rope to her harness. ECO Daly and the others pulled the girl up to safety. When she was safely on the top of the bridge, they pulled the fireman back up. The girl was turned over to her father's custody, who promptly informed them that she was "grounded."

Illegally For Sale-Queens County
ECOs Darci Dougherty and Jeff Conway could see several necklaces and figurines in a store window that appeared to be carved out of ivory. With a strong suspicion that the store was selling ivory illegally, undercover investigators Sara Komonchak and Karen Przyklek were called in to engage the store owner in conversation regarding the items. The owner proudly proclaimed the items were indeed made from genuine elephant ivory. The uniformed officers then checked for any valid permits for the possession and sale of ivory, and the store owner could not produce them. The ivory items were seized as evidence. The store owner was cited for felony possession and commercialization of a threatened or endangered species. An inventory of the illegal ivory items seized from the store placed their value at more than $13,000.

Ask the ECO:
Q: I enjoy fishing for trout and I like to clean my fish before I leave the stream or lake. Is it a good practice to dispose of the entrails in the water where I fish?
A: It is not a good practice, and is prohibited by law. If you wish to clean your fish, the waste may not be disposed within 100 feet of the shoreline whether in the water or on land. If you are on a large body of water, you may dispose of the waste in the water as long as it is done more than 100 feet from shore. Burial of the waste is recommended on land.

Photo: art by Bob deVilleneuve