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For Release: Wednesday, January 2, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late 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 DEC 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:

Busy Day During Late Muzzleloader Season - Delaware County
On the morning of Dec. 16, ECO Nathan Doig received a call from a resident of the town of Franklin. The complainant stated he had just heard two shots fired back-to-back, which indicated that the shots couldn't be from a muzzleloading firearm. ECO Doig arrived and found an SUV parked in a field with a dead deer nearby. The dead buck did not have legal-sized antlers and had been shot by a woman using a .243 caliber rifle, which is not legal for deer hunting during the muzzleloader season. In addition, the woman did not possess a hunting license. The appropriate tickets were issued and the deer was seized for donation. Later that afternoon, ECO Doig received a call from a complainant who had witnessed someone shoot a deer from a pickup truck in Masonville. The complainant was able to get the license plate of the truck and found two individuals in the woods who had been dropped off to look for the deer. ECO Doig located two additional individuals who had been in the truck and issued tickets, including trespassing on posted property, possessing a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, shooting across a public highway, illegal take of a deer, and taking deer with the aid of a motor vehicle. All charges are returnable to the Town of Masonville Court.

A Little Too Late - Niagara County
On Dec. 17, ECO George Scheer received a call from Lt. Nathan VerHague reporting that a deer had been shot after sunset in the town of Hartland. ECO Scheer was nearby and arrived at the scene to find a hunter attempting to drive away. ECO Scheer stopped the hunter, who admitted to shooting a deer but argued it wasn't too dark to shoot. When asked why the deer was left behind in the field, the individual stated that he was going to come back for it later. The individual showed VerHague and Scheer where he shot from, which was confirmed by the complainant. The deer was seized and donated, and the hunter was issued tickets for taking big game after sunset, illegal taking of protected wildlife, and failure to immediately tag deer as required.

Deceased buck on the ground with light shining on it
Buck shot after sunset in Hartland

Tracks in the Snow Tell the Tale - Cortland County
On Dec. 18, ECO Matt Burdick investigated a complaint of a deer killed with a crossbow from a roadway in the town of Cortlandville. The complainant saw the deer being dragged to a pickup truck and was able to provide the officer with the vehicle's license plate number. ECO Burdick found the drag marks leading across the road to a set of tire tracks and a single pair of footprints leading past a visible "no trespassing" sign. A short time later, the suspect drove by the scene and was stopped by the ECO. The driver stated he shot the deer after parking his truck and walking off the roadway. He said he had not seen the posted signs and admitted to not having permission to hunt the property. After being confronted with evidence, the driver admitted to taking the shot from the road. ECO Brett Armstrong and K-9 Phoenix responded and recovered the crossbow bolt from the field. The subject was charged with the illegal taking of big game, discharging a crossbow from the maintained portion of the roadway, trespassing for purposes of hunting, and possession of multiple licenses while afield. The deer was seized and donated.

Overturned Barge - Kings County
On Dec. 22, ECO Adam Muchow received a call about an overturned barge in Mill Basin in Kings County. The U.S. Coast Guard requested assistance in determining if there was any sheen on the water, which would indicate an oil spill. No sheen was found initially, but later in the day, a sheen was discovered. The U.S. Coast Guard, New York Police Department Harbor Unit, and DEC Spills Unit responded and a large boom was deployed to contain the spill. The following day, ECO Muchow and DEC Spills staff returned to the scene and assessed that another boom was needed to fully contain the spill. The owner is working with DEC Spills and the U.S. Coast Guard to remove the barge.

Rocky coastline with large barge tipped over, surrounded by oily sheen.
Overturned barge with oil absorbent boom around it

Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department Christmas Gift Program - St. Lawrence County
On Dec. 22, ECO Michael Sherry assisted the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department with its annual Christmas Gifts and Food to Families event. ECO Sherry has been involved with this program since it began several years ago. Mary Ellen Mace, the organizer, along with volunteers in the community identify families in need during the holiday season and collect donations from various organizations to provide these families with gifts and food. Assisting with delivering donated gifts were members of the New York State Police, St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, New York Park Police, Superintendent of Morristown Central School Doug McQueer, and the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department. This year volunteers delivered packages of food to 22 families and Christmas gifts to 64 children who would have otherwise gone without.

Five officers (local, state, and ECOs) standing, surrounded by Christmas gifts.
ECO Sherry and local officers preparing to deliver Christmas gifts

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