Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, August 1, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid to Late 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:

Obey the Signs or Pay the Fine - Putnam County
On July 13, ECOs Kevin Wamsley and Aaron Bonilla checked on fishing activity at a popular trout stream in the town of Southeast. The stream, a section of the East Branch Croton River, is a well-marked trophy trout stream that only allows the use of artificial lures and has a limit of one trout more than 14 inches per day. The ECOs watched an individual catching a fish. The subject started yelling to a friend down the stream about the fish he had caught earlier. The ECOs split up and found that both subjects were fishing with live waxworms. ECO Wamsley interviewed the first individual and he admitted that he had kept a trout stashed behind a rock nearby. The hidden fish measured 10 inches, well below the legal size. The two subjects had walked past three large signs posted with the special regulations to reach their fishing spot. Both men were issued summonses for fishing contrary to special regulations, and the individual who kept the fish was issued an additional summons for keeping the undersized trout, returnable to the Town of Southeast Court.

Undersized trout from East Branch Croton River
Undersized trout from East Branch Croton

Leadership and Law Academy Outreach - Orange County
On July 16, ECOs Ricky Wood, Lucas Palmateer, and Corey Hornicek attended the Leadership and Law Academy at Pine Bush High School, an elective program for students that allows them to focus on government, economics, and criminal justice. The 14-day program is taught by social studies teachers, town of Crawford police officers, United States Army personnel, and an array of law enforcement agencies that provide instruction from their respective areas of expertise. During the academy, ECO Palmateer set up a booth displaying confiscated items from different cases in Region 3, and spoke about an ECO's typical work day. ECOs Wood and Hornicek, along with K-9 Deming, demonstrated striped bass detection, spent shell casing detection, and obedience and bite demonstrations for students. During the academy, students learn about various first responder and law enforcement careers throughout New York State.

ECOs Wood and Hornicek with K-9 Deming conducting a take-down demonstration
ECOs Wood and Hornicek with K-9 Deming conducting
a take-down demonstration

Lost Duck - Clinton County
On July 19, ECO Brad Buffa received a call from a concerned employee at a business in the city of Plattsburgh about a duck that had landed in the parking lot and wouldn't leave. ECO Buffa arrived to find a young drake mallard sitting behind a dumpster. After a short foot pursuit, ECO Buffa was able to apprehend the duck and safely place it into a small box to be transported. The duck appeared to be uninjured and likely was lost and too scared to leave the parking lot. ECO Buffa was able to relocate the duck to a more suitable habitat on Lake Champlain.

ECO Buffa holding the drake mallard duck ECO Buffa releases lost duck into Lake Champlain
ECO Buffa releases lost duck into Lake Champlain

Young Outdoor Enthusiasts at Lime Hollow Nature Center - Cortland County
On July 19, ECO Andrew Kostuk was invited to Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville to speak with young campers about fishing and trapping. ECO Kostuk helped kids identify fish caught earlier in the day, and discussed fun places in the area to go fishing with their families. ECO Kostuk also talked with the campers about trapping, and identifying animal pelts and footprints. The campers were also given an opportunity to identify animal footprints they had seen on a hike taken earlier in the day.

ECO Kostuk teaching campers how to identify fish
ECO Kostuk teaching
campers how to identify

Undersized and Undercooked - Kings County
On July 19, ECOs Robert Kaufherr and Joshua Jarecki were patrolling Calvert Vaux Park in Kings County when they noticed smoke from a small fire near the shoreline. As the ECOs approached, the officers were surprised to find individuals adding more charcoal to their grill as the flames were high. However, while speaking with subjects around the grill, the ECOs observed a cart filled with blue crabs. At least 15 of the crabs were females with egg sacks attached. A quick look at the BBQ menu revealed two short fluke, one short weakfish, and two short striped bass. The ECOs released the blue crabs with eggs back into the bay and issued summonses for possession of undersized fluke, undersized striped bass, undersized weakfish, over the limit striped bass, undersized blue crab, and possession of female blue crabs with egg sacks still attached, all returnable to Kings County Court in November.

Female blue crabs
Female blue crabs

Swimming Pool Fawn Rescue - Broome County
On July 20, ECO Andy McCormick received a call from an off-duty Broome County Sheriff's Investigator who reported a fawn trapped in his above-ground pool in the town of Chenango. Lt. Ric Warner responded. Using a catch pole and a little ingenuity, the officer removed the fawn from the pool. The deer was released and ran off into the nearby woods, wet but seemingly healthy.

Fawn stuck in swimming pool
Fawn stuck in swimming pool

ECOs at the Baseball Hall of Fame Security Detail - Otsego County
On July 27-29, 38 members of the Division of Law Enforcement participated in the Baseball Hall of Fame Ceremony in Cooperstown. The ceremony attracts thousands of baseball fans and celebrities and requires significant public safety assets and coordination to provide public safety, security, and crowd control. DLE provided officers from the Special Operation Group, Incident Support Team, K-9 handlers, officers trained in radiation detection, UAS ("drone") operators, boat crews, ATV operators, and plain clothes officers. In addition to providing general security on land and water, DLE provided overhead live video from UAS missions and VIP security escorts during the Parade of Heroes. The weekend concluded with no major incidents.

DLE members being briefed
DLE members being briefed

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