Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, July 18, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early July

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:

4th of July, Unplugged - Greene County
On July 4, ECOs Anthony Glorioso and Nathan Doig were on boat patrol on the Hudson River off Riverside Park in the town of Coxsackie, assisting with public safety during the fireworks show. At approximately 8:50 pm, the ECOs noticed a boat carrying four passengers being launched into the river. After the launch, the officers noticed the boat failed to display required navigational lights. The ECOs stopped the vessel and advised the operator to turn on the required lights. Upon encountering difficulty with the lights, ECO Glorioso noticed the boat's bilge pump was running, which was odd because the boat had just been launched. ECO Glorioso inquired if the operator had put the drain plug into the boat prior to launching, resulting in the reply of "Oh no!" With the boat taking on water, the officers assisted in getting the vessel safely back to the boat launch and onto the trailer safely where it could be drained.

HDDV Enforcement - Kings County
On July 2, ECOs Connor Dodge and Zachary Kochanowski were on patrol in Kings County looking for heavy duty diesel vehicle (HDDV) violations. The ECOs conducted multiple vehicle stops and inspections resulting in 21 summonses being issued for various offenses including: no HDDV emissions inspection; idling diesel in excess of five minutes; transporting an uncovered load of solid waste; no safety inspection; and unregistered motor vehicle. All summonses were returnable to Kings County Court.

ECO Kochanowski conducting truck inspection
ECO Kochanowski conducting truck inspection

The Red, White and Blue (and Green) - NYC
On July 4, 2018, ECOs Ryan Wing, Zachary Kochanowski, Daniel Plows, Matthew Thibodeau, and Josh Jarecki participated in a multiple agency detail including the Fire Department of New York, New York Police Department, and the U.S. Coast Guard for the 2018 Macy's Fireworks display in NYC. The detail was tasked with preventing boats over 65 feet in length from entering a security zone established by the Coast Guard to keep boats from getting too close to the five barges setting off the fireworks display. The detail was also tasked with public safety, counterterrorism, and emergency response. At the end of the event, ECOs also helped ensure all the boats at the display made it out of the area safely.

Fourth of July fireworks over NYC
Fourth of July fireworks over NYC

Happy Fluke of July - Kings County
On July 4, ECOs Max Woyton and Connor Dodge patrolled Kings County for recreational marine fishing enforcement. The holiday started off with a bang as a man was spotted leaving a marina with a bucket full of fluke. The man was found to be in possession of 16 fluke, 12 fish over the daily catch limit and 15 of the fish under the size limit of 19 inches. All of the fish were cut up or filleted. Subsequently, the ECOs caught a fisherman on a beach in Brooklyn with another short fluke, along with an individual that had dumped his catch of scup into the jetty rocks as the ECOs approached.

Next, ECOs observed two parties exiting a beach with coolers and fishing gear. After interviewing and inspecting the catch, the two anglers were found to be in possession of undersized scup, undersized fluke, and undersized striped bass. While en route to another location, a man was observed riding a bicycle down a sidewalk pulling a fishing kayak. The man was eager to show his catch, which included striped bass and fluke under the legal size limit. The ECOs discovered an additional group in Queens in possession of two more short fluke. Overall the officers seizures totaled 40 fish, including 25 fluke, two striped bass, and 13 scup seized and donated. The ECOs issued 16 summons including possession of undersized striped bass, possession of undersized fluke, possession of over the limit of fluke, possession of mutilated fluke, possession of undersized scup, dumping upon signal to stop, fishing without a marine registry, and insufficient personal floatation devices.

Snapchat Leads to Charges - Erie County
In early July, a video post on Snapchat depicting a young male striking a snapping turtle through its carapace with a pick axe went viral in the town of Holland, resulting in the video and subject's information being posted on Facebook. DEC Law Enforcement was alerted and launched an immediate investigation. On July 7, ECO Tim Machnica located and interviewed the suspect in the town of Colden. The subject admitted that he had killed the turtle because he was concerned about the safety of his younger sister and his dog. The subject has a valid hunting license, but the season for taking snapping turtles was closed and his method of taking was illegal. ECO Machnica issued summonses for taking small game during the closed season and taking small game by means not specified. The defendant faces fines of up to $500, not including court surcharges.

Big Birds Keep ECOs Busy - Onondaga County
On July 6, Lt. Dave McShane and ECO Paul Sherman responded to a report of an injured Bald Eagle on an undeveloped island on Cross Lake. The eagle had been spotted by kayakers unable to provide specific information on the location of the raptor. The two officers searched the island but failed to locate the bird. The following day, DEC received additional reports of eagle sightings with detailed location information. ECOs Don Damrath and Mark Colesante responded and searched again, eventually spotting the injured eagle in a blown-down tree. Approaching cautiously, ECO Damrath persuaded the eagle into a cage. The injured eagle, a two-year-old female, was taken to a raptor rehabilitator where it was determined the bird likely had a broken left wrist. The eagle was transported to the Cornell University Wildlife Health Center for X-rays and further evaluation.

On July 9, ECO Damrath was dispatched to the Seneca River Dam in Baldwinsville after receiving reports of an injured great blue heron. ECO Damrath arrived to find the bird entangled in monofilament fishing line after going for the bait being used by a 14-year-old fisherman. Moving quickly to prevent additional injury as the line tightened around the bird's body, the ECO freed the bird from hook and line. The bird immediately flew off. The young fisherman's mother thanked ECO Damrath for his assistance and shared her son's desire to become an Environmental Conservation Police Officer when he grows up.

ECOs Colesante and Damrath remove injured Bald Eagle from Cross Lake Injured Bald Eagle from Cross Lake
ECOs Colesante and Damrath remove injured Bald Eagle from Cross Lake

ECO Damrath untangling fishing line from the great blue heron
ECO Damrath untangling fishing line from the great blue heron

Swiftwater Rescue - Livingston County
On July 8, ECO Chris Ward responded to a 911 call from Livingston County regarding two individuals stranded in the Genesee River north of Route 20A in the town of Geneseo. ECO Ward arrived and joined a multi-agency effort to locate the father and his adult daughter. Following the information given, the responders were on the west side of the Genesee River. Rescuers determined that the responders were approximately .3 miles too far north and on the wrong side of the river. ECO Ward and Livingston County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Phillips were at the Route 20A bridge when new information was dispatched with the victims' correct location. ECO Ward and Deputy Phillips located the pair approximately ½ mile away, hanging onto a fallen tree in five feet of rushing water. Deputy Phillips crawled on top of the deadfall and comforted the individuals, while Officer Ward threw a throw bag to the father and instructed him to secure it to his daughter. After the rope was secured, the daughter refused to let go of the deadfall. With Deputy Phillips anchoring the rescue line on shore, ECO Ward secured himself to it, worked his way out to the individuals, and convinced the daughter to grab onto him and let go of the deadfall. ECO Ward brought her to shore safely. ECO Ward and Deputy Phillips then repeated the same process with the father. Once out of the water, both victims were checked by local EMTs and determined to be uninjured.

Honoring a Fallen Brother - New York State Trooper Nicholas F. Clark

On July 8, thousands of family members, friends, police, and first responders from across New York State and the nation, including 60 members from the DEC Division of Law Enforcement and Division of Forest Protection gathered to pay their respects at the funeral services for New York State Trooper Nicholas F. Clark. Trooper Clark was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 2, while responding to a call of a suicidal man barricaded in a home near Corning, Steuben County. Trooper Clark was 29 years old and a three-year veteran of the New York State Police. He will be remembered for his leadership, passion for life, and willingness to help others.

DEC Division of Law Enforcement and Division of Forest Protection

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