Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, October 17, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early October

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:

A Course on Hunting Ethics - Dutchess County
On Oct. 1, ECO Zachary Crain received a tip about hunters using bait on a property in the town of Rhinebeck. ECO Crain visited the area and located multiple feeders filled with corn. The ECO then encountered one individual at a barn on the property who said that he had killed a doe that morning but was waiting for his friends before retrieving it. The hunter knew little about hunting regulations. ECO Crain suggested that they round up the hunter's friends and recover the deer. While meeting with the other hunters, ECO Crain observed an additional feeder and corn kernels spread around tree stands. When the officer asked the hunters about the corn, the group seemed unaware that it is illegal to hunt over bait in New York. In addition, the first hunter shared that he had shot another deer that day but was unable to locate it. ECO Crain spoke with the hunters about hunting laws and ethics, including details on fair chase, blood-tracking, and how to field-dress a deer. The officer issued several tickets to the group, including hunting deer over pre-established bait, failure to comply with tagging requirements, and illegal taking of deer. All of the charges are returnable to the town of Rhinebeck Court.

ECO with deer on car
ECO Crain with illegally killed deer

Coffee with A Cop - Statewide
Oct. 3 marked the annual nationwide "Coffee with a Cop" day. In Monroe County, Lt. Bruce Hummel and ECOs John Lutz, Evan McFee, John Rich, and Spencer Noyes met with anglers on the Genesee River to share a hot cup of coffee while discussing fishing conditions. The officers set up a tent at the Maplewood Park Rose Garden in the city of Rochester, a popular access point to the lower Genesee River during the annual fall salmon run.

In Queens, ECOs Josh Jarecki, Daniel Plows, Jeffery Johnston, and Matthew Thibodeau attended a "Coffee with a Cop" event hosted by the Howard Beach Bagel Café. The ECOs met local citizens and discussed environmental issues. The citizens were happy to learn about the ECOs' responsibilities, while the ECOS enjoyed this chance to connect with the community.

ECOs under tent in Rochester
Coffee with a Cop in Rochester

ECOs at bagel shop
ECOs Johnston and Thibodeau
with the manager of the
Howard Beach Bagel Cafe

Too Close for Comfort - Ulster County
On Oct. 3, ECO Jason Smith received a call from a resident of Woodstock regarding a snake close to his home. The caller was not certain of the species, but was concerned the snake might be venomous. ECO Smith met the caller at his residence and found the snake in a small rock pile next to the back door. The ECO identified the snake as a Northern Copperhead, one of New York State's three venomous species. After coaxing the snake into a bucket, ECO Smith released it in nearby state lands with more suitable habitat.

Snake in bucket
Northern Copperhead safely in a bucket

Deer Hunting Double Trouble - Cayuga County
On Oct. 6, ECO Scott Sincebaugh returned to the site of a complaint alleging deer baiting in the town of Brutus. ECO Sincebaugh located the illegal bait pile and, after surveilling the site, found a hunter waiting over the bait pile with a crossbow. Crossbows are not legal hunting implements during the archery season for big game. The subject was issued tickets for hunting with a crossbow in the archery-only season and hunting over bait.

pile of corn Crossbow in grass
Illegal bait for deer and crossbow used by the hunter

Teamwork Leads to Bobcat Case - Rensselaer County
On Oct. 6, Lt. Nate Ver Hague received a tip from an anonymous caller reporting that a subject had posted a picture on Facebook of a bobcat shot illegally that evening. ECO Brian Canzeri was notified, and using only a name collected from the social media site, DLE dispatchers found a possible address for the suspect in the town of Brunswick. ECO Canzeri interviewed a male subject at the address who admitted to shooting the bobcat with a bow, although the hunting season for bobcats is closed. Within one hour of the call, the case was resolved. The bobcat was confiscated and the suspect was ticketed for illegally taking protected wildlife out of season.

ECO with bobcat
ECO Canzeri with illegally killed bobcat and
arrow recovered from the suspect

Not the Mentor We Envision - Lewis County
At approximately 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 7, ECO Tim Worden was on patrol when he heard several gunshots in the area of Old State Road and Resha Road in the town of Croghan. He located a pickup truck and a tractor stopped on a farm road. The occupants of the truck were an adult male and a 14-year-old boy. The pair was in possession of two rifles and one shotgun. The tractor was occupied by another adult male and a 15-year-old boy. The teens had been using the pickup truck to drive around looking for coyotes on the farm property. After getting the truck stuck and calling for help, the pair shot and killed a porcupine. One of the adults was charged with using artificial lights from a vehicle while possessing an unsecured firearm, and the other, who was responsible for the youths, was charged with two counts of using artificial lights from a vehicle while possessing an unsecured firearm and two counts of allowing a minor to hunt without supervision.

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