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For Release: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-January

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 2017, the 301 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:

Unlabeled Waste Oil Tank - Rockland County
On Jan. 8, ECOs Adam Johnson and Corey Hornicek were patrolling the town of Stony Point, performing compliance checks of automotive repair shops. During a follow-up check at a garage in the process of removing pre-existing underground petroleum bulk storage tanks, the officers observed a large unlabeled tank behind the building. The ECOs questioned the repair shop's owner, who told the officers that he used the tank to store used waste oil. However, it is a violation to fail to label a waste oil tank with its capacity and the words, "Waste Oil." The officers also educated the owner on the corrective measures necessary to be in compliance with Environmental Conservation Law. The owner was issued a ticket for failure to label waste oil tanks returnable to the Town of Stony Point Court.

Unlabeled waste oil tank in Stony Point
Unlabeled waste oil tank in Stony Point

Deer Poacher Busted Again - Erie County
On Jan. 9, ECO Tim Machnica responded to the city of Lackawanna to meet up with a Lackawanna police officer concerning an 8-point buck that was found shot in a resident's backyard. The Lackawanna Police Department had identified a possible suspect. ECO Machnica searched the DEC database and found that in 2011, the suspect had been charged with illegally taking two deer in Lackawanna. After finding 50 pounds of cracked corn on the ground and a lengthy interview with this suspect, it was determined that the deer had been shot with a crossbow out of the bedroom window of the man's residence. Lackawanna is a closed area for deer hunting, and deer season had been closed for several weeks. ECO Machnica issued summonses for taking deer out of season, hunting deer over bait, killing deer except as permitted (in a closed area), and unlawfully feeding deer. The defendant faces fines of up to $4,500 and court surcharges. Lackawanna PD is also conducting an investigation.

Officers with illegally killed buck in Lackawanna
Officers with illegally killed buck in Lackawanna

One Illegal Deer Turns Into Four - Westchester County
On Jan. 11, ECO Craig Tompkins received a call from a State Trooper reporting that an officer had encountered a man and a woman searching for a deer on a golf course in the town of Somers around 1 a.m. that morning. During the initial encounter, the man stated that he had shot an injured doe deer with his bow to "put it out of its misery" after the woman had struck it with her car when she was picking him up from coyote hunting nearby. The trooper sensed that something was not right about the situation and temporarily seized the bow and accompanying arrows before allowing the subjects to leave. When ECO Tompkins arrived at the New York State Police Barracks to gather the information, he performed a check on the individual who had shot the deer, and discovered the subject did not have a valid hunting license. The man was called to return to the station for further questioning and admitted to shooting the doe from the roadway. The subject also admitted to shooting three other deer during the season without a valid hunting license. Appropriate tickets were issued, all returnable to the Town of Somers Court for a date in early February. Charges include illegally taking protected wildlife, hunting big game during the closed season, shooting from a public highway, and hunting big game without a license.

Tragedy Averted - Cayuga County
On Jan. 11, ECO Scott Angotti was patrolling in the town of Montezuma when he spotted a man lying on the ground near a small pine tree. At first glance, ECO Angotti believed the man was taking down Christmas lights, but intuition caused him to turn around and check on the subject. It turned out the 93-year-old man had fallen, was unable to get up, and had been out in the cold and rain for over an hour. When the ECO called out to the subject, he could only wave for the officer to approach. ECO Angotti assisted the man back to his house and contacted medical personnel for an evaluation. ECO Angotti recognized symptoms indicating the onset of hypothermia. The subject was grateful for ECO Angotti's "good eye" and the much-needed assistance.

No Tags Mean No Sales - Bronx County
On Jan. 14, ECOs Ryan Kelley, Shane Dobies, and Sarah Barrett conducted plainclothes inspections of retail seafood companies in Bronx County. Upon entering one store, the ECOs were unable to locate any mandatory tags for the shellfish on display. The tags show customers where and when the shellfish were harvested and that the shellfish were harvested from certified waters. The ECOs identified themselves and requested to see the shellfish tags, but the employees were unable to locate them. An inspection of the cold storage room revealed another full bushel of top neck clams and two full boxes of oysters, all of which lacked the proper paperwork. In all, 380 clams and 308 oysters were seized, photographed, and destroyed. The company was issued one citation for possessing untagged shellfish. The case is pending in Bronx Criminal Court.

Seized shellfish without proper tags
Seized shellfish without proper tags

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