Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late October to Early November

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police 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.
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).

"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:

Illegal Possession of Landlocked Atlantic Salmon - Essex County
On Oct. 27, ECOs Jeremy Fadden and Jeff Hovey were on patrol near the Port Douglas boat launch on Lake Champlain in Chesterfield when they saw a fishing boat returning with three fishermen aboard. The fishermen held valid Vermont fishing licenses, but their catch of landlocked salmon drew the officers' attention. The subjects were in possession of eight landlocked salmon fillets with no fish carcasses aboard the vessel. The officers explained to the fishermen that landlocked salmon cannot be filleted and possessed on the waters of the State, as there is no way to ensure the actual legal length of the fish once filleted. The fish fillets were seized as evidence and two of the fishermen were issued appearance tickets for possession of salmon dismembered beyond the gills and viscera being removed.

Illegally possessed salmon fillets
Illegally possessed salmon fillets

Interagency Collaboration Uncovers Multiple Offenses - Dutchess County
On Oct. 28, ECOs Robert Hodor and Kevin Wamsley responded to a call from the Hyde Park Police Department about an individual found on the railroad tracks in Hyde Park with a cocked crossbow in the front seat of his vehicle. The ECOs met with two officers and found two additional crossbow bolts equipped with broadheads in the suspect's vehicle. The suspect admitted to hunting deer along the railroad tracks from his vehicle. The suspect was issued three tickets by the ECOs for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, and hunting deer by means not specified. The Hyde Park police officers also issued the man an appearance ticket for trespassing on the railroad tracks. During the interview, the individual also stated that he had a friend fishing nearby, so the ECOs proceeded up the tracks to investigate. When the ECOs reached the man, they smelled the odor of burnt marijuana. The second subject handed over a container with drug paraphernalia, as well as controlled substances. Hyde Park police officers arrested the man and issued appearance tickets for criminal possession of a controlled substance and trespassing.

ECO Wamsley with one of the crossbows
ECO Wamsley with one of the crossbows

Deer Jacking Spree - Fulton County
On the night of Oct. 28, ECOs Shane Manns and Jason Hilliard responded with the Fulton County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police to a report of someone shooting from a pickup truck along a road in the town of Broadalbin. Upon arriving at the scene, the officers found a deer that had been illegally killed and left in a field. A short time later, the suspect's vehicle was stopped by a Deputy. ECOs Manns and Hilliard responded to interview the suspects. Two individuals admitted to shooting the deer from the road using the vehicle's headlights. The ECOs learned that the duo had actually shot a second deer from the road at another location. ECOs Brian Toth and Matt LaCroix, aided by K-9 Diesel, were called to assist with the investigation. The ECOs seized the rifle and discovered the second deer dumped on a nearby back road. In total that night, the ECOs processed three scenes spanning two townships with two illegally taken deer. The two individuals responsible for the spree were issued a total of 18 tickets. Charges include taking deer with the aid of an artificial light, discharging a firearm from a public highway, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, taking wildlife from a public highway, hunting big game during closed hours, and possessing a loaded gun in a motor vehicle. The charges are returnable to the Town of Broadalbin and Town of Perth courts.

ECO Matt LaCroix with K-9 Diesel and ECO Shane Manns with the two illegally killed deer
ECO Matt LaCroix with K-9 Diesel and ECO Shane Manns
with the two illegally killed deer

A Waterfowl Foul - Monroe County
On Oct. 28, ECOs Kevin Holzle, Eoin Snowdon, and Jeff Johnston responded to a complaint of waterfowl hunting in a closed area within the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area in the town of Greece. ECOs Snowdon and Johnston spotted the hunters south of the Lake Ontario State Parkway in Long Pond. ECO Holzle responded with a small vessel capable of maneuvering the shallow waters. ECOs Snowdon, Holzle, and Johnston paddled out to find four hunters with their decoys and 14 recently shot ducks. During initial interviews, the hunters incorrectly identified their ducks as gadwalls. It is important for hunters to correctly identify waterfowl, as New York has specific bag limits for certain species. In this instance, the incorrect identification of the birds did not result in the hunters exceeding bag limits. However, all four hunters were ticketed for trespassing while engaging in a posted activity on Long Pond, returnable to the Town of Greece Court.

Ducks taken illegally while trespassing
Ducks taken illegally while trespassing

Death in the Cemetery - Oneida County
On Oct. 30, ECOs Steve Lakeman and Josh Jarecki responded to Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica for a report of shots fired. With the help of Utica Police, the ECOs determined that a person had been spotted shooting at Canada geese and a red fox. There was no sign of any dead geese, however, a dead red fox was found along with a high-powered air rifle. Witnesses provided a license plate number and description of suspects. ECOs Lakeman and Jarecki located the vehicle in Utica at the address of its registered owner and, after thorough questioning, a man at the residence admitted to shooting the fox. He was issued two tickets returnable to the City of Utica Court for failure to possess a hunting license and illegal taking of protected wildlife. Both the red fox and air rifle used in the offense were secured as evidence.

Red fox and air rifle seized as evidence
Red fox and air rifle seized as evidence

Tailgate Truck Hunting - Monroe County
On Nov. 2, a concerned hunter called Monroe County 911 and said he observed a hunter with a crossbow breaking the rules. ECO Kevin Holzle responded and met with Monroe County Sheriff's Deputies, who were first on the scene. A blue truck was parked out in a field and a hunter was perched high in the back of the truck with his crossbow cocked and loaded. The hunter admitted he had been hunting from the truck, but thought only hunting from the inside of the vehicle was illegal. The hunter was charged by ECO Holzle with possession of a loaded crossbow in a motor vehicle, hunting from a motor vehicle, and attempting to take deer by means other than specified with a crossbow during the closed season. All of the charges are returnable to the Town of Sweden Court.

Using a truck as a perch for illegal hunting
Using a truck as a perch for illegal hunting

Caught - Orange County
On Nov. 4, the opening day of crossbow season, ECO Jon Walraven and Lt. Mike Bello successfully closed a complaint of illegal hunting using bait in the town of Wawayanda. ECO Walraven received an anonymous tip regarding a site where a hunter had placed several corn piles on his property to attract deer. ECO Walraven and Lt. Bello conducted surveillance of the site and observed the hunter dragging a field dressed deer that he had just shot with a crossbow from a hunting blind. The officers approached the hunter and interviewed him. He admitted to shooting the deer from the blind, and cooperated by showing the officers where he placed the corn piles. Upon further investigation, the hunter was found to be in possession of a handgun, which is illegal to possess while hunting during the special archery season. The hunter was issued several tickets, including hunting with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, possessing a gun afield during the special archery season, failure to tag deer as required, and illegally taking protected wildlife. The tickets are returnable to the Town Court of Wawayanda in December.

ECO Walraven with the illegally taken deer and crossbow
ECO Walraven with the illegally taken deer and crossbow

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