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For Release: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early February

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 2016, the 286 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 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:

Ivory Sale Bust - Queens County

On Feb. 1, ECOs Zach Brown, Adam Johnson, John Walraven, Lucas Palmateer, and Lt. Michael Buckley conducted a plain clothes operation to buy illegal ivory that was posted on Craigslist. The seller was contacted via email and a meeting was set up. ECOs Brown and Johnson met with the seller to confirm the authenticity of the 38 pieces of ivory. The plain clothes officers and the seller agreed on a price. Brown and Johnson called in uniformed ECOs Walraven and Palmateer to assist with processing the illegal ivory, which ranged from earrings to a smoking pipe. The seller was charged with the illegal commercialization of ivory and offering the sale of ivory.

ECOs Walraven, Brown, Johnson, and Palmateer with 38 pieces of illegal ivory.
ECOs Walraven, Brown, Johnson, and Palmateer with 38 pieces
of illegal ivory.

There's No Denying the Evidence - Suffolk County

On Feb. 1, ECO Mark Simmons received a call from a complainant who stated that he had found evidence of where a deer was taken near bait in the town of Brookhaven. Fresh peanut butter was found smeared on many of the trees and a large pile of deer feed in the area. In front of the blind, the ECOs found deer hair, blood, and a crossbow bolt. The complainant had also stated that he had seen a deer on a truck several houses away from the location. ECOs Kaitlin Grady and Christopher DeRose responded with K-9 Cramer to assist with interviewing the suspect and locating the deer. No contact with the suspect was made, but K-9 Cramer located blood in the driveway and on a truck at the residence. ECOs Landon Simmons and Grady spoke to a local deer processor and found the processed meat, head, and hide from a young buck that had been tagged by the suspect. The ECOs were able to determine the approximate time and date that the deer had been shot. K-9 Cramer also located the gut pile from a deer matching the size and sex of the deer at the processor. The following day, ECOs Landon Simmons and Grady met with the suspect. He initially claimed that he had shot the deer on Jan. 31, while the season was still open, with a compound bow in an adjoining town. Then, after being presented with the evidence, the suspect admitted to unlawfully taking the deer with a crossbow over the bait after the season had closed. The suspect was charged with taking deer over bait, taking deer with an unspecified implement using a crossbow, taking deer out of season, failing to tag deer properly, and illegal take of a deer. On Feb. 12, the illegal hunter met with Lt. Tom Gadomski at the Regional Office and signed an Order on Consent, admitting the violations and paying $2,000 to settle the case.

Illegal Dumping - Ulster County

On Feb. 2, ECOs Josh Sulkey and Ricky Wood investigated an illegal dumping complaint on Berme Road in the Town of Wawarsing, where bags of garbage had been dumped over an embankment. The ECOs went through several of the bags and were able to find a number of personal documents, all belonging to the same person. The ECOs then went to the address on the documents and observed a vehicle parked in the driveway loaded with garbage. They spoke with the resident and showed the resident the documents found at the scene. A ticket was issued for the Unlawful Disposal of Solid Waste, returnable March 3 to the Town of Wawarsing Court.

ECO Sulkey along the roadway where garbage was dumped.
ECO Sulkey along the roadway where garbage was dumped.

Excavating in a Protected Stream Without a Permit - Ulster County

On Feb. 3, ECO Jeannette Bastedo responded to a report of a man conducting work in a stream in the town of Shawangunk. At the site of the complaint, ECO Bastedo located an excavator that had been used to dig a portion of a stream and recent disturbances to the bed and the bank of the stream. On Feb. 7, after confirming with DEC's Bureau of Habitat that the stream is a protected class B trout stream, ECO Bastedo returned to the location and issued a ticket to the man responsible for the excavation work for Disturbing a Protected Stream without a Permit, returnable to the Town of Shawangunk Court on Feb. 21.

Illegal excavation work in a trout stream.
Illegal excavation work in a trout stream.

ATV and Snowmobile Plunge into Raquette River - Franklin County

Three men on an ATV and a snowmobile broke through the ice while attempting to cross the frozen Raquette River at around 6 a.m. on Feb. 4. Two men were on the ATV and the third was operating a snowmobile when they were crossing the river to attend the annual Tupper Lake Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby on Simon Pond. Both machines went through the ice and sunk. Other snowmobilers and a nearby resident were able to rescue the men from the frigid waters without any injuries. The Tupper Lake Rescue Dive Team and DEC personnel responded to the scene. However, attempts to recover the two machines from the water were unsuccessful on Saturday. The following day, the Tupper Lake Rescue Dive Team and ECO James Cranker returned, and with the help of a road grader, the snowmobile and ATV were removed from the river. No tickets were issued to the operators of the machines and no environmental damage occurred.

Recovery of a sunken snowmobile from the Raquette River.
Recovery of a sunken snowmobile from the Raquette River.

ECOs Assist with Long Island Snowstorm - Suffolk County

On Feb. 9, ECOs Kyle Bevis and Justanna Bohling were assigned to assist New York State Police with their 4x4 vehicle patrols in the towns of Islip and Smithtown due to an impending snowstorm and resulting poor road conditions. ECOs Bevis and Trooper Coppola were assigned to patrol the Sagtikos and Sunken Meadow Parkway, while ECO Bohling and Trooper Gallagher patrolled the Robert Moses and Southern State Parkway. The joint patrols were tasked with assisting disabled motorists and safely returning them to the roadway, if possible, facilitating the arrival of tow trucks, clearing debris from accidents, and directing traffic. The ECOs handled slick roads, heavy snow, and white-out conditions. Between the two teams, the ECOs assisted 18 disabled motorists throughout the day.

Illegal Fishing - Sullivan County

On Feb. 11, ECO Tom Koepf checked the licenses of ice fishermen on Swinging Bridge Reservoir in the town of Thompson. There were several dozen people on the ice that day, and most were in compliance with state fishing regulations. The final group of fisherman that ECO Koepf spoke to were two men from New Jersey. Both men stated that they had not caught any fish that day. However, during a check of all of their gear, ECO Koepf located a five-gallon pail containing a legal-sized Black Crappie and a large Bass. Because Bass season was closed, ECO Koepf inquired why they had kept it. One of the fisherman stated that he was having a slow day, and "Wasn't only going to filet one Crappie." He was issued a ticket for taking bass during the closed season, returnable to the Town of Thompson Court.

ECO Koepf with a large, and illegal, bass.
ECO Koepf with a large, and illegal, bass.

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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