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For Release: Wednesday, December 12, 2018

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late November to Early December

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:

Perfect Timing - Ontario County
On Nov. 21, Lt. Aaron Gordon was driving past a residence in the town of Manchester when he observed a deer hanging in the garage. As the ECO pulled into the driveway to check the tag, a shot rang out from behind the house. Lt. Gordon encountered the homeowner and asked if he heard the gunshot. The homeowner said he believed it must have been one of his neighbors hunting in the woods behind his house. Lt. Gordon walked behind the house and discovered a shooting lane cut in the brush, perfectly aligned with one of the residence's windows. There were two large piles of corn and a dead, eight-point buck approximately 40 yards from the first corn pile. ECO Kevin Thomas responded to assist Lt. Gordon. The homeowner admitted to shooting the deer from the window of his house. The buck was confiscated and tickets were issued for discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a house, hunting deer over bait, illegal taking of protected wildlife, and taking deer in excess of the bag limit.

Deceased deer close-up with corn in it's mouth
Eight-point buck taken illegally over corn pile

Road Hunters become the Hunted - Livingston County
On Nov. 26, ECO Shawn Dussault received a call about a deer being shot from the road by someone in a small white sedan in the town of Conesus. He headed to the location and spotted the dead deer just off the roadway. Thinking that the suspects would return for the deer, he requested an unmarked car to respond to assist him. Capt. William Powell drove to the area and parked his unmarked patrol vehicle in a driveway across from the location. About 20 minutes later, a white sedan appeared and parked nearby. The subjects spotted ECO Dussault in the woods and sped off. Capt. Powell pulled over the sedan and found an unloaded shotgun and rifle inside. Initially, the male and female subjects denied having any involvement in the incident, but after interviewing them separately, the pair admitted to shooting the antlerless deer from inside the vehicle with the shotgun. K-9 Ski was requested and found the components from the slug that killed the deer, as well as an empty shell casing. Both subjects face several charges, including reckless endangerment, possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence, trespassing, taking an illegal deer, taking an antlerless deer without a proper Deer Management Permit, and taking wildlife from a motor vehicle.

Big Bucks over Bait - Herkimer and Oneida Counties
On Nov. 30, several complainants called ECO Ben Tabor about a buck suspected of being taken over bait in the town of Ohio that had been entered in a local big buck contest. ECO Tabor determined where the deer had been shot after finding a large bait pile with the gut pile next to it. The ECO interviewed the suspect, who admitted to taking the buck illegally. The deer was seized as evidence and summons were issued for hunting over a pre-established bait pile and the illegal taking of a deer.

On Dec. 2, ECO John Gates received a call from an informant stating that a large buck had been killed by a suspect that had posted pictures on Facebook of him feeding deer close to his camp. As the officer pulled onto the property, he noticed piles of alfalfa and corn. The hunter claimed he had shot the deer halfway back into his 100-acre parcel. Officer Gates followed sled tracks to a gut pile within 30 yards of the bait. The man admitted to shooting the deer and was charged with illegal taking of deer, hunting over bait, and carrying the tags of another person. The deer was seized as evidence and the charges are returnable to Forestport Town Court.

ECO with large buck in back of vehicle ECO next to truck with buck
ECO Tabor (L) and ECO Gates (R) with bucks taken illegally with bait

Cooperative Effort for a Proactive CWD Checkpoint - Broome County
On Dec. 1, Capt. James Boylan, Lt. Kenric Warner, and ECOs Andy McCormick and Anthony Rigoli conducted a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) checkpoint just north of the Pennsylvania border in the town of Vestal along with officers from the Vestal Police Department and State of Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation. The detail was part of DEC's Division of Law Enforcement initiative to prevent CWD-infected carcasses and prohibited parts of deer taken in Pennsylvania from entering New York. CWD is an untreatable and fatal brain and nervous system disease found in deer, elk, and moose and poses a serious threat to New York's white-tailed deer population. The first vehicle checked was transporting a whole carcass taken in Pennsylvania. Over the course of the detail, two more vehicles were found to be transporting deer carcasses into New York State in violation of the ECL. DEC is conducting testing on the confiscated deer. One truck contained four whole, untagged carcasses. Pennsylvania officers addressed the unlawfully taken deer, as well as other violations of Pennsylvania's Fish and Game laws. In addition, ECOs charged two men with possession of loaded firearms in a motor vehicle and Vestal Police issued numerous tickets for vehicle and traffic offenses.

Deer carcasses in back of ECO truck
Seized deer taken for testing and destruction

Case Closed on Out-of-Season Deer - Chautauqua County
On Dec. 3, ECO Jerry Kinney attended Town of Harmony Court to finalize a case involving a deer killed on June 10. A 19-year-old man traveling on Wilcox Road in Harmony saw a doe in a field and took a single shot .22 caliber rifle and fired it out of the back passenger window of the car. The deer was wounded and the subject did not have any more ammunition, so he used a knife to kill the deer. This case was solved thanks to interviews conducted by ECO Kinney and a video taken by a passenger in the vehicle. The shooter accepted a civil settlement for taking a deer out of season, using rimfire ammunition to hunt deer, possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from the roadway, and using a motor vehicle to take wildlife, with total penalties of $1,712.50.

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