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For Release: Wednesday, May 2, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-April

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:

Injured Eagle Sparks Criminal Investigation - Sullivan County
On April 11, ECO Tom Koepf received a call from a citizen in Cochecton reporting an injured Bald Eagle near his home along the Delaware River. ECO Koepf arrived and located the eagle near a set of railroad tracks. The bird was suffering from a severely broken right wing. The officer captured the bird and transported it to licensed wildlife rehabilitator Missy Runyan, who then took the two-year-old female to a veterinarian. It soon became apparent that the bird had been shot, as dozens of lead fragments were observed around the broken bones in its wing. The eagle is currently in Runyan's care and expected to survive. ECOs are investigating the shooting, which is a federal offense, and anyone with information that may help identify those involved with the shooting are encouraged to contact the Region 3 Law Enforcement office at (845) 256-3013.

ECO Officer holding an eagle in a field
ECO Koepf with injured
eagle in Cochecton

Pesticide Enforcement for Earth Day - Westchester County
On April 18, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Charles Eyler performed pesticide compliance checks in the southern portion of Westchester County as part of a larger DEC effort recognizing Earth Day. The ECOs patrolled areas of Scarsdale, North White Plains, Hartsdale, Mt. Vernon, Bronxville, and Eastchester, checking commercial applicators for required registration and applicator's licenses, labeling of pesticide containers, and other requirements to operate a pesticide business commercially. The officers spoke with 17 businesses over the course of the day, issuing five tickets for labeling and decal display violations, and six verbal warnings for various minor offenses.

ECO truck inspecting a red truck
ECO Tompkins inspecting a commercial pesticide applicator

The Evidence Tells the Story -- Suffolk County
On April 20, ECO Tim Fay responded to a call reporting a dead deer discovered in a Hampton Bays backyard. ECO Fay found an entrance hole through the deer's rib cage that indicated a small caliber bullet and evidence revealed the deer had been killed within four hours. The officer contacted ECO Christopher DeRose and K-9 Cramer for assistance. The ECOs located a .22 caliber bullet inside the deer. The officers visited the neighboring property to question the owner, who denied the shooting. During the interview, ECO Fay was invited inside the house where he found a dead gray squirrel and a crow. The owner admitted the animals were shot off the bird feeder with a pellet gun from the window. Meanwhile, ECO DeRose worked with K-9 Cramer outside of the house and found a fresh .22 caliber casing under a bedroom window. The officers presented the owner with the evidence obtained and the man admitted to the crime. The ECOs explained the dangers of discharging a firearm in close proximity to other homes. The 81-year-old man was issued tickets returnable to Southampton Town Court, charged with taking deer out of season, using a rifle on Long Island, discharging within 500 feet of a house, and taking the squirrel and crow out of season.

Successful Youth Turkey Hunt - Greene County
During the April 21 and 22 youth weekend of the spring turkey hunting season, ECOs assisted with the Greene County Youth Turkey Hunt sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation and Norton Hill Fish & Game Club. Approximately a dozen young turkey hunters participated in the morning's hunt and were treated to a barbecue lunch. Five youngsters managed to harvest a turkey, including one mentored by ECOs Vern Bauer and Anthony Glorioso. The young hunter took his first-ever bird, a mature tom, at sunrise on the first morning of the two-day youth turkey season.

ECO and hunters posing with turkey
ECOs Bauer and Glorioso with youth hunter and turkey

No (Shark Fin) Soup for You - New York County
On April 24, investigators with DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI) unit, uniformed ECOs, and Special Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducted an inspection at New Kam Man Supermarket in Manhattan's Chinatown neighborhood. During the inspection, the business owner, Kin Hong, admitted to possessing dried shark fins with the intent to sell. The investigators found boxes containing more than 112 pounds of shark fins hidden in the dry food storage area of the supermarket's basement. Hong had no documentation to identify the type of shark fins or source of the delivery. Valued at $350 per pound, the illegal shark fins had a market value exceeding $39,000. Mr. Hong was issued a Notice of Violation for possessing/offering for sale prohibited shark fin and illegal commercialization of protected wildlife exceeding $250. DNA testing by Dr. George Amato at the American Museum of Natural History determined the fins to be from Big Eyed Thresher sharks, a prohibited species. Shark fins are valued in Asian culture due to their use in shark fin soup. The fins are often obtained by the practice of shark finning, slicing off a shark's fin and returning the shark to open waters. A finned shark, unable to swim or pass water across its gills, often dies from suffocation or blood loss. An estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year to meet the global demand for fins.

ECO officers with confiscated shark fins
ECOs atop DEC Region 2 headquarters with confiscated
illegal shark fins
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