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For Release: Wednesday, September 12, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late August

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:

Waterfowl and Alligator Mounts for Sale - Niagara County
On Aug. 26, ECOs Kevin Holzle and George Scheer met with an individual offering a redhead duck, a wood duck, and alligator mounts for sale on Craigslist in the town of North Tonawanda. The meeting was set up with assistance from Investigator Ed Piwko. After discussing prices and the history of the mounts, the ECOs, dressed in plain clothes, asked the suspect to bring the mounts to a meeting spot. When Holzle and Scheer identified themselves as conservation officers, the suspect was apologetic and claimed to be unaware of regulations prohibiting the sale of certain wildlife mounts. The seller was issued a Notice of Violation, allowing the case to be handled administratively rather than in criminal court. The mounts were seized as evidence.

Wildlife mounts offered for sale illegally
Wildlife mounts offered for sale illegally.

One of These Things Just Doesn't Belong -- Orange County
On Aug. 27, ECOs Jeremy Fadden and Melissa Burgess responded to a spill complaint at a marina on Greenwood Lake. Arriving on scene, the officers discovered that a backhoe had somehow made its way into the lake. ECO Fadden spoke with representatives from the Orange/Rockland Power Authority, the owner of the machine, and learned that the machine's parking brake had malfunctioned, causing it to roll into the lake. No one was in the machine at the time of the accident. The ECOs worked with DEC Spills Response to place petroleum-absorbing booms around the excavator in case of leaks and the backhoe was removed from the lake within a few hours of the accident. There were no impacts to the lake and no charges were filed.

Backhoe submerged in Greenwood Lake
Backhoe submerged in Greenwood Lake.

Swimming Bears - Fulton County
On Aug. 28, ECOs Shane Manns and Paul Pasciak were on boat patrol on the Great Sacandaga Lake when they received a report of two bears swimming across the lake. The caller was concerned for the bears' safety in the open water among the boat traffic. ECOs Manns and Pasciak responded and located a mother bear and her cub swimming a few hundred yards from shore. The ECOs carefully positioned their boat to encourage the bears to swim toward the shoreline and away from other boaters. Within a short time, the mother and her cub safely made it to shore and ran off into the woods.

Mother bear with cub on her back arrive at the shore of Great Sacandaga Lake
Mother bear with cub on her back arrive at the
shore of Great Sacandaga Lake

The Great New York State Fair - Onondaga County
Region 7 ECOs worked dozens of shifts at this year's Great New York State Fair, manning the Division of Law Enforcement's Aquarium Building display, information booth and NY Exposition Center. ECOs fielded thousands of questions from fair visitors and spoke to many regarding careers as ECOs. This year's display focused on a conversation officer's role in both pollution prevention and wildlife protection. The ECOs and their display, created by Lt. Dave McShane, were well-received by the public. Several daily attendance records were set at the State Fair, as well as the overall attendance record of close to 1.3 million fairgoers.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos visits ECOs at 2018 State Fair
Commissioner Basil Seggos and Executive
Deputy Commissioner Ken Lynch visit with
Lt. Dave McShane and ECO Scott Sincebaugh
at the DLE State Fair display

The DLE Pipe and Drum Band leads the Law Enforcement Parade at the Fair
The DLE Pipe and Drum Band leads the
Law Enforcement Parade at the Fair

No Label is a Problem - Richmond County
On Aug. 29, ECO Taylor Della Rocco was on patrol in Staten Island when he observed a landscaping business truck parked on the side of the road with two containers in the back of the trailer. After speaking to the workers on the site, ECO Della Rocco determined that the pesticides were in the containers, although the containers were not labeled. The officer also determined that the business was not licensed for pesticide application. The business was issued tickets for possessing unlabeled pesticides and operating an unregistered pesticide business.

Unlabeled pesticide containers
Unlabeled pesticide containers

DNA Results Link Suspect to Illegally Killed 10-Point Buck - Erie County
On Aug. 30, a defendant pleaded guilty to the Illegal taking of deer in a closed area and entered into a civil agreement paying fines totaling $1,502.50 after a nine-month long investigation. On opening day of big game season on Nov. 18, 2017, a witness observed someone cutting up a deer in the woods in the town of Tonawanda - an area closed for big game hunting. This information was shared with DEC law enforcement officials a few days later, and ECOs Tim Machnica and Michael Wozniak responded to the scene to gather physical evidence. The suspect was not from the area, and ECO Machnica reached out to ECO Jerry Kinney for assistance. The officers located the suspect's 10-point buck at a taxidermist shop and seized it for DNA comparison. After months of waiting for the results, the DNA data revealed a link to the suspect's deer. The suspect was issued multiple tickets for the illegal take, possession, and transport of deer, along with failing to properly tag and report the deer harvest.

ECO Machnica with deer mount
ECO Machnica with deer mount.

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