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From the October 2011 Conservationist

A firetower on a mountain top at sunrise

On Patrol

Real stories from Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers in the field

By ECO Lt. Tom Caifa and Forest Ranger Lt. John Solan

Window Poaching-Steuben County

Recently, a resident from Bath contacted ECOs Tom Flaitz and Dave Hulett to report that an eagle had been shot; he had a picture on his cell phone of the injured bird. The officers went to the accused man's residence, which was an adult, assisted-living home. The facility operator, a 71-year-old female, stated she shot the eagle, but both officers suspected she was trying to protect the real suspect. Finally the woman admitted that one of her residents, an 87-year-old retired dairy farmer, shot the eagle from his second-story bedroom window. The ECOs found a scoped rifle and box of ammunition next to the window in his room where apparently he would sit and shoot at wildlife that ventured onto the property. The firearm and the eagle carcass were seized, and the man was ticketed for illegally taking a protected bird, for which he paid a heavy fine. Additionally, the man's other firearms were locked in the facility owner's gun safe, available only for legitimate hunting activities.

Stop poachers and polluters sign with phone numbers

Boathouse Bust-Lewis County

While conducting land surveys for the Brookfield Power Company in Croghan, surveyors noticed trees were missing from the property. After reporting the stolen timber, a company representative visited the site with ECOs John Murphy and Tim Worden, and discovered that approximately 100 hemlock trees had been taken. Tracks on the property led back to a private camp on the Beaver River where the officers saw a brand new boathouse made of rough-cut hemlock. The officers took a few photos and left. A few days later, the ECOs met with one of the camp owners, who denied any knowledge of the trees being removed from the adjoining property. When presented with the photos, however, he told officers to speak with his brother. The ECOs did, and the man confessed to taking the trees. He was ticketed for trespassing and timber theft.

Dog Tired-Essex County

A visitor recently stopped at a DEC forest ranger's office in the Adirondacks to report that his hiking partner was in need of assistance on the trail below the summit of Dix Mountain. The missing hiker had become exhausted after attempting to carry his dog-which had collapsed-down the mountain. Two forest rangers were dispatched and located the hiker and his dog 1/4 mile from the Lillian Brook lean-to. The hiker was exhausted, but willing to walk to the lean-to, escorted by the forest rangers carrying his dog. Once at the lean-to, forest rangers rehydrated and fed both the hiker and his dog. When the pair was able to travel on their own again a short time later, the rangers accompanied them to the trailhead where the two reunited with their hiking partner.

ASK THE ECO

Q: I would like to get a hunting license this year, but I can't find my hunter safety training course certificate, which I got several years ago, and I don't have an old hunting license. Can I still buy a hunting license?

A: Most likely yes. You can use your hunter education certificate as proof of eligibility. If (as you describe) you can't locate your certificate, try contacting the person who taught the course. The DEC Sportsmen Education Program (1-888-486-8332) may also be able to help you locate proof that you took the course. Remember, it's your responsibility to keep all your hunter education certificates in a safe place. If all else fails, you can always take the course over again; it's free and would be a great refresher for any hunter. Also, DEC keeps computer records of all licenses sold after September 2002, so you can call License Sales at 518-402-8843 to see if they have your information. If, however, you bought your last license before then, the vendor who sold you the license may have a record of it.

Photo: Carl Heilman II