From the June 2014 Conservationist
Photo: Carl Heilman II
Real Stories from Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers in the field
By ECO Lt. Liza Bobseine and Forest Ranger Capt. Stephen Scherry
Red-tailed Hawk Recovers-New York County
Maintenance workers at a housing project in Manhattan discovered a red-tailed hawk struggling to fly. After receiving a call about it, ECO Dustin Dainack took the hawk to the Wild Bird Fund for evaluation and treatment. The hawk had an injured foot, possibly from a window strike. Three days later, Wild Bird Fund told ECO Dainack the hawk had fully recovered and could be released back into the wild urban environment of New York City. He returned the hawk to the same pocket park where it had been found and watched as the hawk flew effortlessly to the tree tops. Several minutes later, it swept down to the grass and then up again, grasping a large rat in its talons.
Crabbers Get Grabby-Suffolk County
One foggy night, Lt. Dallas Bengel and ECO Mark Simmons were patrolling the shoreline around Shinnecock Bay when they spotted a vessel with two people harvesting horseshoe crabs. Because there was a 30-crab limit per trip, Lt. Bengel and ECO Simmons decided to check the crabbers. Not knowing where the crabbers might come ashore, the officers began a game of cat and mouse that was complicated by the poor visibility. They finally intercepted the vessel at Molnar's Landing in Hampton Bays. The operator was found to be in possession of 209 horseshoe crabs-179 crabs over the limit. Accompanying him was the owner of the vessel, who did not have a horseshoe crab permit. The violators were issued summonses and paid fines.
Decoy Deception-Livingston County
Within minutes of setting up "Tom the Turkey" decoys, ECOs Brian Wade and Chris Ward and Lt. Josh VerHague observed a person loading a turkey round into his shotgun while inside his vehicle. The man left the vehicle, intending to shoot the "turkeys," and was flabbergasted when ECO Wade quickly intervened. Later that day, three people were apprehended when one of them, while seated on an ATV anchored in the bed of a pickup truck, discharged a round toward the decoys. All parties were issued summonses and paid a total of more than $1,215 in penalties.
Missing Underfoot-Schenectady County
The Schenectady Police Department (PD) contacted Forest Ranger Captain Pat Kilpeck, requesting assistance with finding a 60-year-old female who had been missing since the week before, when a taxi dropped her off outside a house in the Village of Scotia. Rangers Jeff Breigle and Sarah Geesler met with a detective to assess the situation and plan a search. Rangers and officers from the Scotia and Schenectady PDs then searched the area east of Collins Park to the Mohawk River. About two hours later, Rangers Joseph Bink and Bill Henry and two detectives found the woman alive approximately 100 yards from where she had last been seen. The woman, who reportedly has dementia, told authorities she had been seeking "solitude and rest" but became weak and took shelter under overgrown brush, which concealed her. She did not leave this spot, nor did she have any food or water the entire time. The Scotia Fire Department treated the woman at the scene, after which Mohawk Ambulance took her to the hospital for evaluation.
Ask the ECO:
Q: A woodchuck is eating my garden. What am I allowed to do?
A: Unprotected wildlife (other than birds) may be taken by any means or in any manner (in accordance with your local ordinances) by the landowner or lessee, or by members of their immediate family occupying a property when such wildlife is injuring that property. Examples of unprotected wildlife include chipmunks, red squirrels and woodchucks.