Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, May 10, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late April

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:

Marine Patrol Vessel Training -- Suffolk County

From April 3 to 21, ECOs Emma Carpenter and Chris Amato attended the Suffolk County Police Department's Standard Marine Patrol Vessel Operation Course. The ECOs trained in the operation of a variety of patrol vessels ranging in size from 20 to 40 feet in length with officers from Suffolk County Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, New York Police Department's Scuba Team, Long Beach Police Department, East Hampton Police Department, New York State Police, and Riverhead Police Department. The course included segments on navigation rules, fighting boat fires, operation of vessels at night and in low visibility conditions, vessel-to-helicopter hoist operations, emergency water survival, and methods for approaching other vessels at high speed.

ECO Amato waiting for the USCG helicopter during hoist operations training.
ECO Amato waiting for the USCG helicopter during
hoist operations training.

Youth Turkey Hunt - Yates County

On April 22 and 23, Lt. Matt Lochner and ECOs Josh Crain and Kevin Thomas participated in the Eighth Annual Yates County Youth Turkey Hunt. This year's event began with a dinner presentation at the Seneca Lake Duck Hunter's Club during which ECOs Crain and Thomas discussed hunting ethics and firearm safety. The 27 youth hunters received a turkey vest, hat, gloves, facemask, turkey calls, gun case, and Dead Ringer peep sights. The Mossy Oak and Lynch Mob Turkey Calls Pro staff put on a turkey calling seminar to teach the kids how to use the slate calls that Lynch Mob Turkey Calls generously donated to each youth participating in the hunt. After the Sunday morning hunt, during which an impressive 15 turkeys were taken, everyone met up for a picnic lunch. All of the young hunters received prizes ranging from calls and turkey decoys to a lifetime hunting license donated by Eagle Eye Outfitters.

2017 Yates County Youth Turkey Hunt participants and their birds.
2017 Yates County Youth Turkey Hunt participants and their birds.

Turkey Hunt - Oneida County

On April 22 and 23, the Oneida County Sportsman's Federation, along with ECOs from Oneida, Herkimer, New York, and Richmond counties held the 7th Annual Oneida County Youth Turkey Hunt at the Cassity Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls. Eight youths and 16 mentors, including ECOs and volunteers, took to the woods early in the morning with hopes of harvesting one of New York's most coveted game birds. Teams consisted of two adult mentors and one youth. Hunts were conducted in Oneida, Madison, and Herkimer counties on private property with the permission of the landowners. Six of the eight youths successfully harvested gobblers; the two other young people enjoyed close encounters.

2017 Oneida County Youth Turkey Hunt participants.
2017 Oneida County Youth Turkey Hunt participants.

LOTOG Exercise - Jefferson County

On April 24, ECOs participated in a Lake Ontario Tactical Operations Group (LOTOG) exercise conducted in Cape Vincent with staff from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, Canadian Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the New York State Police Dive Team. The training simulated a deep draft vessel entering the Great Lakes carrying a contraband device on its hull. Once the vessel was detected, the incident command structure interagency response was activated, signaling local agencies in the area to respond. The exercise included the boarding of the vessel and the underwater recovery of the device, which had been planted on the USCG Cutter Katmai Bay, a 140-foot Bay-class icebreaking tug. The agencies conducted vessel approach techniques, setting a secure perimeter, vessel boarding skills, and interagency communication. ECOs also utilized an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to assist with surveillance and to provide a training aid. The training was valuable in familiarizing LOTOG members with a variety of missions, as well as to identify necessary improvements in the response systems.

ECO Safe Boat and the Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay as viewed from a UAV.
ECO Safe Boat and the Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay as viewed
from a UAV.

Busted - Westchester County

On April 26, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Tony Drahms were checking fishermen along the shoreline of the Hudson River in Croton-on-Hudson when they encountered a group of three anglers. The ECOs watched as one of the fishermen caught two fish, both undersized striped bass. The man did not release the fish as he should have under the rules and regulations of the Environmental Conservation Law. ECO Drahms walked up to the group and introduced himself as an ECO, and one of the men exclaimed, "Oh no!" The ECOs found a total of 12 striped bass between three anglers with only one of the fish being of legal size. A total of six summonses were issued to the group, all returnable to the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Court.

ECOs Tony Drahms and Craig Tompkins with the illegal fish.
ECOs Tony Drahms and Craig Tompkins with the illegal fish.

Good Training and Quick Thinking Saves a Life - Oswego County

On April 28, ECO David Thomas responded to a 911 call reporting a distressed individual at the intersection of State Rt. 49 and Depot Road in the town of Constantia. ECO Thomas was the first police officer to arrive on the scene. A crew from Southern Oswego County Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived and together they located a 22-year-old woman unresponsive in the passenger seat of a parked vehicle. A quick evaluation indicated that the victim was likely suffering from an opioid drug overdose. ECO Thomas administered an initial dose of naloxone (Narcan) issued to all Division of Law Enforcement members. A second dose was administered about 10 minutes later after the initial dose failed to sufficiently reverse the opioid effects. The victim was revived by the combined doses and transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse for further treatment.

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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