Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, October 10, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late September

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), 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:

Conservation Field Days - Monroe County
Lt. Bruce Hummel and ECOs John Lutz, J.T. Rich, and Eoin Snowdon participated in the annual Monroe County Conservation Field Days from Sept. 18-20, at Ellison Park in the town of Penfield. The interactive environmental education event draws classes of 5th graders from schools across Monroe County. The ECOs gave 20-minute presentations to students focusing on issues regarding the environment, conservation, wildlife, and extinct animals, including a "Feast or Famine" conservation experiment led by ECO Lutz. The presentations were well received by students and teachers alike, and the event was rewarding for the participating ECOs.

ECO teaching kids
ECO Lutz teaching 5th graders from Schlegel Road
Elementary School

Genesee River Snagging - Monroe County
On Sept. 23, ECOs Spencer Noyes, J.T. Rich, and Evan McFee were monitoring fishing activity during the salmon run at the Lower Falls of the Genesee River in the city of Rochester when four fishermen "snagging" fish near the waterfall caught the ECOs' attention. The ECOs walked into the gorge and discovered the fishermen as the group was walking out. A total of eight salmon and one walleye were found to be caught illegally, all foul hooked. The fishermen denied any wrongdoing until they were found to be in possession of large, weighted treble hooks used to snag the fish. The four were issued tickets for snagging fish, possession of foul hooked fish, and taking over the daily limit for salmon.

On the morning of Sept. 29, ECO McFee returned to the Lower Falls and again found illegal snagging activity on both sides of the river. ECOs Rich and Lt. Bruce Hummel responded to assist McFee. Several fishermen were fishing legally but others were observed adding illegal treble hooks and weights. By the end of the day, 19 tickets were issued for various fishing violations including taking fish by snagging, use of treble hooks contrary to special regulations, use of weighted hooks contrary to special regulations, possession of foul hooked fish, taking over the daily limit for salmon, possession of trout and salmon eggs over one quart, and discarding fish carcasses within 100 feet of the shoreline. All of the tickets issued on the two dates are returnable to the City of Rochester Court.

Solid Waste Goes Wrong - Putnam County
On Sept. 26, ECO Charles Eyler received a call from the town of Putnam Valley building inspector reporting a dump truck that had just deposited a load of solid waste illegally and was stuck at the site. ECO Eyler arrived to find the dump truck off the roadway, unable to move, and directly in front of a pile of fill. Eyler asked the driver where the fill originated. The driver explained that it was received from a yard in New Rochelle, with the material originating in New York City. The property owner said he had been approached with an offer for free fill. He wanted the fill for part of a driveway expansion, although the fill had actually been dumped on a neighbor's property. DEC Division of Materials Management engineers determined that the fill was solid waste and ECO Eyler wrote the driver a summons for unlawful disposal of solid waste. The property owner was issued a summons for operating a solid waste management facility without a permit. The driver was ordered to remove the load of fill after the truck was back on solid ground. Both charges are returnable to the town of Putnam Valley Court.

Dump Truck stuck in dirt
Truck stuck at Illegal Dump Site

Pollution across State Lines - Ulster County
On Sept. 27, ECO Jeannette Bastedo was on patrol in the town of Shawangunk when she observed a tractor trailer emitting thick black exhaust. She followed the truck to the town of New Paltz, pulled it over, and performed an exhaust opacity test on the truck with assistance from ECO Jason Smith. The exhaust opacity was determined to be 77 percent, 37 percent higher than legally allowed for a truck of its age. The ECOs issued a ticket to the Pennsylvania company that owned the truck, returnable to the Town of New Paltz Court.

environmental conservation officer checking truck emissions
ECO Bastedo testing truck's emissions

Trapped Owl - Oneida County
On Sept. 28, ECOs Steve Lakeman and Rob Howe responded to a report of an owl stuck in a foothold trap behind a house in the town of Deerfield. As the ECOs approached the bird, the officers could see the owl's right talon was caught in the trap, preventing it from flying. The ECOs netted the owl with a fishing net and carefully released the trap. The owl took a few hops, looked back at the ECOs for a moment, and flew away, appearing healthy and unharmed. There were no tags on the trap to identify who had set it. The trap appeared to be extremely old and had most likely been left in the woods for years. The ECOs removed the illegal trap.

Owl in net
Owl before being released from the trap

Illegal Burn Leads to Deer Case - St. Lawrence County
On Sept. 28, ECO Scott Atwood was on patrol in the town of Pitcairn when he noticed a strong odor of burning debris that seemed to be coming from behind a camp. When ECO Atwood reached the camp, he observed smoke coming from an ATV trail. There were also bags of corn stacked up on the ground and in the back of a pickup truck and a bow case sitting on top of the bags. The officer followed fresh ATV tracks from the camp, which led him to a smoldering pile of debris, including empty corn bags. ECO Atwood continued past the debris and reached an elevated enclosed hunting stand. He observed a hanging feeder and watched as an individual exited the stand and disappeared into the woods with a rifle slung over his shoulder. The subject appeared to be tracking an animal. ECO Atwood approached the man and after a short conversation, determined he had killed a four-point buck with a crossbow over an area baited with corn and apples after legal shooting hours. The deer was recovered and seized and a total of six tickets were issued to the man for killing deer except as permitted, hunting deer pursuant to a bow stamp while in possession of a firearm, hunting deer with the aid of bait, taking deer other than during permitted hours, taking deer by a means not specified, and failing to carry his hunting license and tags. ECO Atwood returned the next day and met with the property owner who admitted to starting the fire that had drawn the officer's attention. One ticket was issued to the property owner for unlawful open burning of refuse material. The deer was donated to a local community organization.

ECO with deer
ECO Atwood with seized four-point buck

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