Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, December 13, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early December

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:

Hawk Rescue - Cayuga County
On Dec. 3, ECO Scott Sincebaugh responded to a report of an injured hawk stuck in a tree off State Rt. 34 in the town of Cato. ECO Sincebaugh arrived to find a red-tailed hawk in the tree with a trap firmly clamped to its leg. The chain on the trap had become tangled on a tree branch, leaving the bird dangling helplessly from the tree. After assessing the situation, ECO Sincebaugh coordinated with Weedsport Fire Department personnel to respond with a ladder truck in order to free the bird. Once the bird was out of the tree, the ECO removed the trap from the bird's leg. The trap had no tag identifying the owner as required by law, making it impossible to determine where the hawk had encountered the trap. The hawk was not seriously injured and was transported to a wildlife rehabilitator for evaluation and future release.

Weedsport Fire Department working to free trapped hawk - image 1 Weedsport Fire Department working to free trapped hawk - image 2
Weedsport Fire Department working to free trapped hawk

Lake Carmel Heating Oil Spill - Putnam County
On Dec. 3, ECO Craig Tompkins received a call reporting a home heating oil spill entering Lake Carmel in the town of Kent. Kent Police Department officers were the first to respond and detected a petroleum odor around the lake, which they traced back to a discharge pipe close to the shoreline. Lake Carmel Fire Department responded and traced the heating oil through the storm sewer system to a home being renovated. The Putnam County Hazardous Material Response Team contained the oil on Lake Carmel. ECO Tompkins and DEC Spills Responder Keith Browne focused on cleaning up the spill. Staff from Tri-State Environmental Services Inc. arrived later in the day, finished the cleanup and determined that there were no impacts to drinking water. The homeowner stated that two above-ground oil tanks had been removed from the property a few days prior. The homeowner stated that he removed the tanks himself and disposed of them. He was issued tickets for failing to report a spill within two hours as required by Environmental Conservation Law and polluting the waters of the state in contravention of standards. Both tickets are returnable to the Town of Kent Court in January 2018.

Lake Carmel Fire Department placing booms along the shoreline
Lake Carmel Fire Department placing booms along the shoreline

U.S.S. Little Rock in Buffalo Harbor - Erie County
On Dec. 4, ECOs Michael Phelps, Jamie Powers, and Adam Muchow took part in security patrols for the soon-to-be-commissioned U.S.S. Little Rock. The ECOs worked alongside members of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, the Erie County Sheriff's Department, and the cities of Buffalo and Tonawanda police departments. The mission was to keep all vessels outside of the established safety zone around the Navy vessel, a Freedom-class littoral combat ship. Tours of the new ship will be held throughout her stay in Buffalo, concluding with the commissioning of the ship on Dec. 16. The security patrol will continue through Dec. 18, when the U.S.S. Little Rock will leave for her new home at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida.

ECO Muchow U.S.S. Little Rock
ECO Muchow and U.S.S. Little Rock

Bobcat and Deer Case - Rensselaer County
On Dec. 6, ECO Brian Canzeri received a call concerning a bobcat in the town of Schaghticoke. When the officer arrived, the complainant stated that his neighbors had been using his garage with his permission, but he suspected that something was suspicious. He lead ECO Canzeri into the garage and showed him four fresh deer heads and a dead bobcat. A series of interviews with potential suspects yielded a man who admitted to shooting the bobcat in a closed area while hunting without a small game license. Later that same day, the subject had also shot a doe without a big game license and used a Deer Management Unit tag from outside the area that was provided by a different person. During his investigation, ECO Canzeri identified two additional men that had failed to report their deer harvests. A total of 14 tickets were issued for these violations, and the deer and bobcat were confiscated.

ECO Canzeri with illegally taken wildlife
ECO Canzeri with illegally taken wildlife

Too Dark to Hunt - Niagara County
On Dec. 7, ECO George Scheer was following up on a tip he received a few days earlier regarding hunting over bait in the hamlet of Burt. ECO Scheer set up to watch an area where the complainant advised a baited tree stand was located. A hunter was observed in the deer stand, where a considerable pile of pumpkins, corn cobs, and squash was also spotted. The sun started to set and the ECO made contact with the hunter. After a short interview, the hunter admitted that he did not know what time legal sunset was that day. When asked about the bait pile, the hunter claimed he hadn't placed it there. ECO Scheer charged the hunter with hunting deer with the aid of bait and hunting big game after sunset. The charges will be answered in the Town of Newfane Court. DEC reminds hunters that legal hunting hours are from official sunrise to official sunset. Watch this clip to learn more: Legal Hunting Hours for Big Game in NYS.

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