Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, January 3, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid to Late 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:

A Combined Effort - Queens County
On Dec. 18, ECOs closed a case that involved illegal Chinese mitten crabs seized at JFK airport. Earlier in the month, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Inspector Thomas Toth contacted ECO Shane Dobies concerning a package confiscated from an airline passenger that contained 30 illegal crabs illegal to possess in New York as an invasive species. The case was turned over to DEC, and on Dec. 13, ECO Dobies interviewed the man in question at his residence in College Point, Queens. The man admitted to the act and DEC issued a Notice of Violation for the possession of the crabs. The man entered into an Order on Consent and paid a penalty of $550. The USFWS was notified of the results of their work and the crabs have been destroyed.

Chinese Mitten Crabs seized at JFK Airport
Chinese Mitten Crabs seized at JFK Airport

Out of Season Stripers - New York County
On Dec. 19, ECOs Adam Johnson and Brendan Dickson were on their way back to Region 2 headquarters, approaching the exit for the midtown tunnel, when ECO Johnson spotted several fishermen fishing off the docks on 35th Street. The officers watched the fishermen reel in striped bass and place them in a bag. The ECOs approached and began interviewing the fishermen on the dock. One attempted to slowly sneak away, but ECO Johnson escorted him back to the dock. At first, the subjects claimed to have had no luck fishing. But when ECO Dickson emptied the bag with the striped bass onto a bench, one fisherman grabbed a fish and threw it back into the water as the ECOs commanded him to stop. The fisherman was quickly detained while ECO Johnson found seven more striped bass. Eight tickets were issued, three for taking striped bass during the closed season, three for failing to release fish without undue harm, one for disobeying a lawful order, and one for dumping upon signal to stop, a misdemeanor.

ECO Dickson with the illegally caught striped bass
ECO Dickson with the illegally caught striped bass

K-9 Finds Bad Boys in State Park - Suffolk County
On Dec. 21, ECO Chris DeRose received a complaint of hunters in Nissequogue River State Park and Kings Park Psychiatric Center, where hunting is not permitted. ECO DeRose responded with his partner, K-9 Cramer, and located a vehicle. ECO DeRose called ECO Sean Rockefeller and asked him to stay at the parking lot while he investigated the area. After tracking the hunters through a field and a large stand of woods, K-9 Cramer brought ECO DeRose to the base of a tree, where a bow hunter was found in his tree stand. The hunter had a valid license, although he was not wearing a backtag. While interviewing the hunter, ECO DeRose found that he also had the license and tags for two other individuals in his possession. The subject advised the officer that there was another hunter in the woods, as well. Within minutes, DeRose found the second hunter in a tree stand who was also not wearing his backtag. Both hunters were escorted from the park and issued several summons, including possessing a bow and arrow in a state park, failure to wear a backtag, and possessing the license of another, all returnable to Suffolk County First District Court on Feb. 7.

K-9 Cramer enjoys a toy after helping ECO DeRose locate illegal hunters
K-9 Cramer enjoys a toy after
helping ECO DeRose locate
illegal hunters

Illegal Deer Leads to Arrests - Cayuga County
On Dec. 22, ECOs Mark Colesante and Scott Sincebaugh arrested a North Syracuse man for criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree, two counts of taking an illegal deer, and two counts of failure to tag deer as required after an incident earlier in the week. The investigation stemmed from a Dec. 17 incident, when the New York State Police responded to a hunting camp in the town of Ira and noticed two untagged deer. The State Police notified ECO Colesante, who was familiar with the camp and the individual involved. When ECOs Colesante and Sincebaugh met with the suspect at the camp, the two deer were hanging in the barn and were tagged. The hunter admitted to shooting both deer on the morning of Dec. 16 with his muzzleloading firearm. However, because the subject is a convicted felon, he is not allowed to possess a firearm. The subject was arrested, processed at the State Police North Syracuse Barracks, and issued appearance tickets returnable to the Town of Ira Court. The two deer and muzzleloader were seized as evidence.

ECO Mark Colesante with the illegally taken deer seized in the Town of Ira
ECO Mark Colesante with the illegally taken
deer seized in the Town of Ira

Three Bucks is Too Many - Onondaga County

Late in the evening of Dec. 22, ECO Don Damrath wrapped up an illegal hunting investigation in the town of Dewitt. The investigation started after three Facebook posts where a man boasted about killing two 8-point bucks during the archery season. As ECO Damrath was attempting to locate the subject, the man posted a photo of a third buck, the biggest of the three. Officer Damrath finally caught up with the subject at his home late in the evening, and the man produced three 8-point racks to go along with a poorly concocted story about how and where he killed the deer. ECO Damrath determined two of the three deer were killed over bait in the backyard of the man's house in a nearby suburban neighborhood. One of the bucks was taken with a crossbow during the archery-only season, and one of the bucks was never tagged. None of the deer were reported. Officer Damrath seized all three sets of antlers and charged the subject with a total of 11 offenses under the Environmental Conservation Law, including five misdemeanors. The subject faces fines of up to $11,500, loss of hunting privileges, and an additional misdemeanor charge for signing a false statement.

ECO Damrath with the illegally taken trophy racks
ECO Damrath with the illegally taken trophy racks

Delivering Christmas Cheer - St. Lawrence County
On Dec. 23, ECO Mike Sherry helped the Brier Hill Fire Department deliver Christmas gifts and food to families in the community. This was the second year the fire department donated gifts and food to families in the community with the help of ECOs, New York State Police and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Department. The Brier Hill Fire Department, located in the town of Morristown in St. Lawrence County, distributed Christmas gifts for 65 children and supplied food to 21 families in need. The officers delivered the gifts, food and holiday cheer to homes throughout the community.

ECO Sherry with Christmas presents for needy families
ECO Sherry with Christmas presents for needy families

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