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For Release: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early to Mid-January

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2015, the 268 ECOs across the state responded to 25,000 calls and issued 22,000 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Undersized Lobsters Seized - Kings County

On Jan. 9, ECOs Mary Grose and Paul Pasciak were performing Joint Enforcement Area (JEA) checks in seafood warehouses in Kings County. While inspecting NY Fresh Seafood Trading Inc., in Brooklyn, the officers discovered a number of undersized lobsters. Further inspection resulted in a total of 222 undersized lobsters seized and donated to the Bowery Mission's Men's Transitional Center in Manhattan. The company was issued an administrative Notice of Violation to settle the offense of possession of undersized lobsters with the Division of Law Enforcement and DEC's Legal division.

Illegal Doe - Orange County

On Jan. 11, ECO Chris Lattimer completed a month-long investigation regarding a hunter trespassing complaint. A Deerpark resident had a trail camera picture from Nov. 22 of two men dragging a doe off of his property. The resident was unable to identify the two men at the time. On Jan. 11, the complainant called ECO Lattimer and stated that he overheard one of the hunters bragging about the deer at a party. The man shared the name of the hunter with the officer. ECO Lattimer conducted some interviews and located the hunter, who admitted to trespassing on the complainant's property. He stated that he had shot the deer on a neighboring property and tracked it to the complainant's property. The hunter stated that he originally thought the deer was a buck and did not realize it was a doe until he found it. He then admitted to not tagging it, as he did not have a Deer Management Permit (DMP) for that zone. The hunter was issued appearance tickets for the Illegal Taking of Protected Wildlife and for Taking a Doe without a Permit, returnable to the Town of Deerpark Court. Both men were also given verbal warnings for trespassing on posted property.

Trail camera picture of two hunters with an illegally killed doe.
Trail camera picture of two hunters with an illegally killed doe.

Bass Out of Season - Saratoga County

On Jan. 14, ECO Mark Klein received a call that fishermen on Saratoga Lake were catching bass and sneaking them into their vehicle although bass season was closed. When ECO Klein arrived, he checked the fishermen. All had licenses and there were no obvious violations of the Conservation Law, but when ECO Klein asked about the bass in their vehicle, they admitted to hiding additional fish and turned them over to ECO Klein. All told, seven bass ranging in size from 13 to 19 inches were seized and the fishermen were charged with Taking Bass out of Season.

Illegally taken bass from Saratoga Lake.
Illegally taken bass from Saratoga Lake.

Illegal Piranha Possession - Onondaga County

ECO Don Damrath had been following a Facebook post from a 23-year-old Skaneateles man attempting to sell a red-bellied Piranha and a venomous Yellow Leaf Scorpion Fish for several weeks when, on Jan. 14, the ECO contacted the seller. During the subsequent interview, the man indicated that he had been unable to sell the fish but had left the piranha at a tropical fish store. The subject was charged with having unlawfully possessed the illegal fish.

Over-limit Duck Hunter caught by Off Duty ECOs - Cayuga County

On Jan. 15, off duty ECOs Scott Angotti and Josh Crain were waterfowl hunting on Owasco Lake in the town of Scipio when they observed three individuals shoot a large group of Redhead ducks swimming into the men's decoy spread. The three subjects all emptied their shotguns into the flock, killing a total of 35 Redhead ducks and possibly wounding several others. ECOs Angotti and Crain immediately contacted local ECO Scott Sincebaugh, approached the three hunters, and identified themselves as ECOs. ECO Sincebaugh arrived a short time later and issued the hunters tickets for taking over the aggregate limit of ducks, as well as taking over the daily limit of Redheads. One of the hunters was also charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, hunting without a license, and not participating in the Harvest Information Program.

Illegally taken ducks from Owasco Lake.
Illegally taken ducks from Owasco Lake.

A Little Bit of Everything in That Fire - Erie County

On Jan. 15, while on patrol, ECO Chuck Wilson observed a man standing next to a large pile of smoking debris. By the time ECO Wilson turned around and returned to the residence, the pile was fully engulfed in flames. It was immediately apparent that the fire contained construction and demolition debris, including cabinets, plastics, linoleum flooring, cardboard, and painted lumber. The man tending the fire admitted that he owned a small construction company and the debris was brought in from one of his job sites, stating, "There's a little bit of everything in there." The subject was issued appearance tickets for unlawfully disposing of solid waste at other than an approved facility and unlawful open burning.

Construction debris being burned illegally.
Construction debris being burned illegally.

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

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