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For Release: Wednesday, July 17, 2019

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early July

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 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, 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:

Fireworks on the East River - New York City
On July 4, ECOs Wozniak, Kochanowski, Thibodeau, Dodge, Della Rocco, Kelley, Plows, Johnston, and Dickson worked to maintain a security border around the Brooklyn Bridge as hundreds of recreational and commercial boats filled the East River to watch the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Show. While more than 70,000 pyrotechnics exploded in the sky, ECOs and other local and state agencies patrolled the waters and used the opportunity to speak with the boat captains and vessel operators about boating safety and good seamanship.

ECO standing on a boat in the water watching the fireworks against the night sky
Macy's 4th of July fireworks viewed from DLE patrol vessel

The Case of the Goose at the Gas Station - Onondaga County
Late in the evening of July 4, ECO Don Damrath received a call from a Dewitt Police Officer requesting assistance with a wildlife case under investigation. Two employees of a Kwik Fill station told the officer that a customer lured several Canada Geese into close range with crackers, grabbed one of the geese, strangled it, tossed it into his van, and quickly drove away. Damrath took statements from the eyewitnesses and viewed the security camera footage of the incident. The officer determined the suspect's vehicle registration information and found the man several hours later. The suspect did not deny killing the goose at the gas station, but excused his actions by claiming the goose had attacked him. When informed by ECO Damrath of the security video, the subject admitted to killing the goose and taking it away. ECO Damrath charged the man with taking waterfowl out of season and illegally taking protected wildlife. The tickets are returnable to the Town of Dewitt Court and, if found guilty, the subject could face fines of up to $250 and imprisonment up to 15 days on each charge.

Tall Ships 2019 in Buffalo Harbor - Erie County
Region 9 ECOs took part in a multi-agency security detail during the Tall Ships 2019 event in Buffalo between July 4 and 7. The event began with a parade that included 12 tall ships sailing into the harbor while the U.S. Coast Guard, federal, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies maintained a moving safety zone around the ships until they were moored along the Buffalo waterfront. The ECOs used two patrol vessels and two personal watercraft to conduct daily patrols in and around the ships and maintained a safety zone while the ships were moored. During the entire weekend of patrols, the officers made contact with several hundred vessels and operators and issued 18 tickets for various violations. One subject was arrested on a bench warrant.

ECO boat in the water patrolling other ships coming through ECO on a jet ski patrolling the other ships in the water
DLE conducting patrols around the tall ships

Discovery of Illegal Discharge - Tompkins County
On July 5, ECO Jeff Krueger investigated a wastewater discharge complaint at a laundromat in the village of Trumansburg. With help from DEC Spills responder Chris Rossi and Lt. Mark Colesante, Krueger took water samples from a discharge pipe and conducted a dye test that determined the effluent was coming from the laundromat and discharging into Trumansburg Creek. The creek empties into Cayuga Lake, the source of drinking water for several townships and parts of Ithaca. The following day, ECO Krueger and Lt. Ric Warner contacted the owner, who agreed to shut down the laundromat until the facility can come into compliance with water quality regulations.

ECO standing near a creek at night, shining a light on the water and doing some tests
ECO Jeff Kruger investigates illegal discharge into Trumansburg Creek

Drinking and Boating - Ulster County
On the evening of July 5, ECOs Jason Smith and Lucas Palmateer were on boat patrol when they observed a vessel traveling through the darkness on Rondout Creek without navigation lights. The officers stopped the vessel with 10 passengers aboard and immediately noticed the operator's eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred, and there was a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. The officers performed field sobriety tests on the subject and ECOs arrested and transported him to the New York State Police Kingston barracks for further testing and processing. ECOs charged the man with failing to display navigation lights as required and boating while ability impaired by alcohol. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Town of Esopus Court.

Illegal Possession of a Timber Rattlesnake - Delaware County
On July 9, ECOs Nathan Doig and Dustin Osborne responded to an anonymous Facebook complaint about an individual who had killed a Timber Rattlesnake near a job site on Crystal Lake in the town of Deposit. ECOs Doig and Osborne interviewed the subject, who stated that he had hit the snake with his truck, skinned it, and was planning to eat it. The skin and body were seized, and the individual was issued a ticket for the illegal possession of a timber rattlesnake.

Two ECOs standing by their patrol vehicle, one holding the skin of a rattlesnake and one holding the carcass of a rattlesnake
ECOs Doig and Osborne with rattlesnake carcass and skin

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