Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late 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, 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:

Duck ID is Key - Suffolk County
On Jan. 20, ECO Sean Rockefeller responded to a complaint of duck hunters shooting too close to homes near the Bayport Marina. Upon his arrival, ECO Rockefeller observed three individuals hunting just off the shore in a small boat. One of the three hunters appeared to throw two ducks into the weeds. ECO Christopher Amato was called to assist and the officers approached and interviewed the trio. The ECOs asked what the hunters threw into the weeds. The hunters confessed that they had killed one Scaup over their limit, as well as a second bird they could not identify, after ECO Amato retrieved the birds. The ECO returned with both discarded birds, a Scaup and a Pied-Billed Grebe, which is a protected, non-game species. The three hunters were charged with taking ducks over the limit, one hunter was charged with unlawfully taking a protected bird, and two were charged with failing to wear a personal flotation device (PFD). All of the summonses are returnable to Suffolk County First District Court on March 7.

ECO Rockefeller with ducks seized as evidence
ECO Rockefeller with ducks seized as evidence

Security Detail - Seneca County
On Jan. 20, Lt. William Powell and ECO Shawn Dussault assisted the Seneca Falls Police Department, New York State Police, and Seneca County Sheriff's Department with a security and public safety detail at the 2018 Women's March in Seneca Falls. More than 10,000 people participated in the event in the small village. DLE was requested to assist with a marked UTV, which proved to be the perfect tool for this detail. In addition to traffic and crowd control, the UTV was utilized to evacuate an injured woman from the interior of the crowd where traditional emergency equipment could not access. The woman was taken three blocks away to a waiting ambulance, which then took her to a local hospital for evaluation.

ECO Dussault observes the crowd from the UTV
ECO Dussault observes the crowd from the UTV

Small Game, Big Problem - Sullivan County
On Jan. 21, ECO Tom Koepf received a call from the New York State Police Barracks in Liberty regarding small game hunters trespassing on a property in Liberty. ECO Koepf responded to the location and met the troopers and the three hunters. One of the hunters said that they had been hunting the property on the side of the road where the complaint originated, and that he had taken a rabbit with one shot. The hunter also stated that after he fired, someone came out of a house nearby and began yelling that they were trespassing. The hunter led the officers down a powerline, following his own footprints in the snow to show where he had fired. He then pointed to a location where he said he was standing when he shot, which was fairly close to several nearby residences. The two officers searched the area but were unable to find the spent shotgun shell casing, which seemed odd given the fact that there was undisturbed snow all around. ECO Koepf contacted ECO Ricky Wood to ask for his assistance with K-9 Deming, as he wanted to verify exactly where the hunter had discharged his firearm. ECO Wood arrived with K-9 Deming, but Deming was unable to locate any spent shell casings in the area. ECO Wood began to work Deming in other areas along the powerline and after a short time, Deming discovered three spent 20-gauge shotshell casings, which matched the rounds the hunter was using. The location was within 200 feet of the complainant's home. When presented with the evidence, the hunter admitted to firing three shots from that location. The hunter was issued a ticket for discharging a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling, returnable to the Town of Liberty Court.

ECO Wood and K-9 Deming with the illegal rabbit and spent casings
ECO Wood and K-9 Deming with the illegal rabbit and spent casings

Illegal Alligator Mount For Sale - Westchester County
On Jan. 21, ECOs Craig Tompkins, Chad Eyler, and Kevin Wamsley seized a 5-foot-long alligator mount listed for sale on Facebook. ECO Wamsley had received a tip from a friend concerning an ad in New Castle advertising the alligator for $500. ECO Wamsley communicated with the individual selling the alligator and set up a time to meet. The ECOs patrolled to the location at the agreed upon time and met with the seller. The seller was issued an administrative ticket for illegally offering the alligator mount for sale and the mount was seized as evidence.

ECO Wamsley with mounted alligator
ECO Wamsley with mounted alligator

A Shot Leads to Arrest - Suffolk County
On Jan. 21, ECO Tim Fay was en route to assist ECO Christopher Amato with a violation in the town of Brookhaven when he heard multiple shots coming from nearby woods. A quick call to ECO Amato confirmed the shots were not related to his work, so ECO Fay entered the woods to determine the origin of the shots. A short distance away, he observed a man with a long gun going into a trailer parked at a construction yard. ECO Fay identified himself and asked the man what he was shooting at. The man stated he was shooting his .22 caliber rifle in a sand pit. ECO Fay explained to the man that it was a crime to possess a rifle afield on Long Island, secured the rifle, and went with the man to the sand pit to see where he was shooting. DEC Dispatch determined that the man had an active arrest warrant out of New York City and multiple felony convictions. Investigator Kevin Cummings and ECO Amato responded to ECO Fay's location to assist as ECO Fay arrested the man for possessing a rifle afield on Long Island and criminal possession of a weapon, both misdemeanors. The defendant was processed for the arrest and held overnight at the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department. The following morning, he was transported to Suffolk County District Court for arraignment and then picked up by the NYPD on the outstanding warrant.

A Blatant Violation - Niagara County
On Jan. 25, ECOs Jamie Powers and George Scheer were on patrol in Niagara County when they observed a truck transporting construction and demolition debris that was not secured or covered. As the ECOs followed the truck, the officers observed four pieces of wood fall off the vehicle. Once stopped, the driver of the vehicle stated that the debris was from a home remodeling project and that he was transporting it to the transfer station. The driver also said that even though he was not going far, he was not aware that covering the solid waste was required. The ECOs issued the driver a ticket for an uncovered load of solid waste returnable to City of Lockport Court.

ECO Powers discussing the violation with the driver
ECO Powers discussing the violation with the driver

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