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For Release: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late September

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, the 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:

A Fawn in the Bathroom - Oneida County
On Sept. 21, ECOs Ricardo Grisolini and Zachary Kochanowski responded to a report of a sick fawn spotted on Leland Avenue in Utica but were unable to locate the fawn. The next day, ECO Grisolini received an anonymous call from a gentleman stating that he witnessed someone bring a fawn into a building behind a local steakhouse. ECO Grisolini and Kochanowski went to the Arctic Ice building, where a woman greeted them, thanking the officers for showing up. The woman said that she had brought the fawn into the building to care for the animal and was trying to locate a suitable caregiver. The fawn seemed to have limited vision and showed signs of malnutrition. The ECOs transported the fawn to a local wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.

ECO Kochanowski with the fawn
ECO Kochanowski with the fawn

ECOs Save Great Blue Heron - Dutchess County
On Sept. 26, ECOs Zachary Crain and Deo Read patrolled the Hudson River in Tivoli after receiving a report of an injured Great Blue Heron. Familiar with the area described by the caller, ECO Read spotted the Heron along the bank. With the aid of some rubber hip boots and a catch pole, ECO Crain and Read directed the Heron toward the rocky bank, where ECO Read captured it. The Blue Heron was transported to Wild Mountain Birds Rehabilitation. Upon initial examination, the rehabilitator noticed a lack of use with the bird's left wing. The Heron will undergo additional treatments and is expected to make a full recovery before being released back into the wild.

ECO holding a Great Blue Heron
ECO Zachary Crain with Great Blue Heron

Happy Ending for Little Owl - Suffolk County
On May 31, ECO Emma Carpenter received a call from a concerned resident who had picked up a baby owl that couldn't fly from the side of the road in Babylon Township. ECO Carpenter transported the owl to a wildlife rehabilitator in Islip, who would care for it until it could fly. The owl required extra care, and was finally released on Sept. 27. The rehabilitator opted to do a "soft release," opening the door of the flight cage and allowing the owl to leave on its own. Doing so allows the owl to return to the flight cage, and the owl's diet will be supplemented until it gains more experience hunting and can survive on its own.

Eastern screech owl the day it was rescuedThe owl a few months later, on the day of its release
Left: Eastern screech owl the day it was rescued.
Right: The owl a few months later, on the day of its release

Amnesty Day - Suffolk County
On Sept. 30, ECOs Brian Gustitus and Justanna Bohling participated in an animal amnesty day in conjunction with the Suffolk County SCPA, Herpetologist Michael Ralbovsky, and the Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology Center staff. Throughout the day a steady trickle of residents arrived to surrender their illegally possessed animals. By the end of the day, the group had collected two Yellow Bellied Sliders, four Eastern Box Turtles, two American Alligators, two Raccoons, one Nile Monitor, two Common Snapping Turtles, one Gulf Coast Box Turtle, one Black Throat Monitor, and one Barred Rock Rooster. The day was a tremendous success for everyone involved. The animals will be given to licensed exhibitors who will use the animals for educational purposes.

Two ECO's holding surrendered Alligators
ECOs Gustitus and Bohling with surrendered alligators

Opening Day Hunting Over Bait - Monroe County
Late in the day on Sept. 30, ECO Kevin Holzle received information from ECO Eoin Snowden concerning a complaint of a baited tree stand in the town of Webster. The complainant wanted to remain anonymous and shared little information for ECOs to investigate. The following morning, the opening day of the early archery season for deer, ECO Holzle spent an hour moving slowly through thick brush toward a tree stand, attempting to locate the hunter and the illegal bait. ECO Holzle spotted the location within 40 yards of the hunter and found him hunting over two freshly laid piles of corn. The hunter was issued a summons for hunting deer with the aid of bait returnable to the Town of Webster Court.

Town of Lagrange - Dutchess County
On Sept. 30, ECOs Kevin Wamsley and Robert Hodor closed a case that began on Sept. 15, when ECOs received a complaint that garbage had been dumped on privately owned property. Upon investigation, the items in the garbage appeared to be similar to items that could be seen in the unoccupied house. The house was owned by a bank, which had a long list of sub-contractors that had performed the physical work of cleaning out the house. After some exhaustive police work, the ECOs identified the subject who had done the work on the house. He admitted to the unlawful disposal, a ticket was issued, and the individual cleaned up and properly disposed of all of the solid waste that had been dumped.

Solid waste that had been dumped on the property
Solid waste that had been dumped on the property

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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