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For Release: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions

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.

2020 marks 50 years for DEC and 140 Years for Conservation Police Officers. In 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State.

In 2019, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 25,704 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 16,855 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. The work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

No Precautions, Work Stopped, Fine Paid - St. Lawrence County

On March 23, ECO Mike Sherry was patrolling along the St. Lawrence River in the town of Morristown at 295 River Road when he observed several construction vehicles. He noted that the company was working on the riverbank. Officer Sherry met the owner and operator of the company to check compliance with permits and regulations. The site inspection showed material had been placed into the river and no precautions were taken to prevent contamination of the water. Sediment and about 100 feet of crushed stone had been deposited into the St. Lawrence River along the shoreline and the owner acknowledged that he knew he needed to place silt screen, but said it was in his other truck. With the violations noted, ECO Sherry stopped work on the site, took photos, and issued the owner an administrative summons. The violation resulted in a $1,000 penalty under consent.

Construction site being flooded by river
Non-compliant construction site along St. Lawrence River

Sewer System Failure - Queens County

On April 5, ECOs Colton Garrand and Darren Milliron were on patrol and observed flooding at an exit ramp on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens County. New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) inspectors informed the ECOs that a sewage line had broken and that waste was pouring onto the roadway, causing hazardous conditions as contaminants entered a nearby drain. ECOs Garrand and Milliron used dye tablets to trace the path of the untreated wastewater after it entered the sewage drain. The ECOs determined the wastewater was running directly into Flushing Meadows Park and emptying into Willow Lake, a freshwater pond. ECO Brent McCarthy arrived on scene to assist with traffic control until the sewage line waste was diverted off the highway. DEC's Division of Water was notified and will be following up with the city for cleanup. NYCDEP hired a contractor and the leak has been fixed.

Green-dyed water in a wetland area Green-dyed water overflowing onto roadway
Waste from a broken sewer line in Queens was dyed as part of DEC's investigation

Bald Eagle found on train tracks - Queens County

On April 22, ECO Brent McCarthy responded to a report of a bald eagle found on the tracks by a railway worker in Queens county. ECO McCarthy had recently taken the track safety training and was able to retrieve the eagle from the Long Island Railroad's Sunnyside Yard. The bald eagle was originally believed to have been hit by a train but its feet were charred, suggesting it may have been electrocuted. A necropsy will be conducted by the State Wildlife Pathology Lab and the data collected will contribute to scientists' research of eagles in New York.

ECO holding deceased bald eagle
ECO McCarthy transporting a juvenile bald eagle for a necropsy

Tractor Trailer Rollover - Queens County

On April 23, ECO Evan Crisafulli responded to an overturned tractor trailer on the Long Island Expressway entrance ramp at Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens County. The tractor trailer was towing a flatbed filled with scrap cars to be recycled when it overturned. A minimal amount of vehicle fluid leaked out from the scrap vehicles and the spill was treated by the New York City Fire Department's Hazardous Material Unit. Fortunately for the driver, the diesel fuel tank was not compromised and he walked away with only a towing bill for setting the tractor trailer upright.

Over-turned truck on ramp Over-turned truck with absorbent material on road to soak up fluid
DEC oversees cleanup from overturned tractor trailer

Barricaded Bears - Sullivan County

On April 15, ECOs Glen Parker and Ricky Wood responded to a bear complaint in Rock Hill. Upon arrival, the ECOs found two yearling black bears stuck inside a shed. The bears had knocked over a number of items inside the shed and were trapped inside. With assistance from two New York State Troopers, the ECOs were able to open the shed doors just wide enough for the bears to escape back into the nearby forest.

Two young bears in a wooden shed
Barricaded yearling black bears in Rock Hill

Injured Owl Fledgling - Sullivan County

On April 22, ECOs Glen Parker and Christopher Doroski responded to reports of an injured owl fledgling in the town of Neversink. Upon arrival, the officers located the owl and captured it without incident. The owl was taken to the New Paltz Animal Hospital where it was evaluated and determined to be underweight and suffering from an injured keel. The owl will be relayed to the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for recovery after its injuries are treated.

ECO poses for a picture with owl fledgling
ECO Doroski with owl fledgling

Muskrat Stuck - Dutchess County

On April 24, ECO Michael Hameline responded to a call in the city of Beacon for a report of an animal stuck in a fence. Upon his arrival, ECO Hameline located a muskrat in a chain link fence. The ECO safely removed the muskrat from the fence without causing further injury to the animal or damage to the fence. The muskrat was transferred to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for rehabilitation and is expected to make a full recovery.

muskrat stuck under fencing ECO helping muskrat get out from under the fence
ECO Hameline freeing the muskrat from the fence

NYSDEC ECOs Continue Response to COVID-19 Pandemic - Rockland County

On April 25, ECOs continued their service to the State since the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Anthony Wayne Recreational Area testing site in Stony Point. ECOs performed site security, helping to ensure an orderly and safe environment, while enforcing federal HIPAA laws. Officers also assisted with the check-in process as hundreds of people showed up for tests.

ECO vehicle parked at a COVID-19 site
ECO providing site security at Anthony Wayne testing site in Stony Point

COVID-19 Response - Kings County

ECOs have been responding to the pandemic at various testing centers throughout New York State and have mobilized for a variety of roles such as Incident Command System (ICS) functions, site security, traffic control and technical services such as fit testing. On-site fit testing of N95 respirators ensures a proper seal and adequate protection from airborne particles for medical personnel and other first responders while performing their duties. At the Brooklyn Emergency Operation Center, ECOs Ryan Grogan and Dylan Schuck fit tested first responders before they reported to the drive-thru testing center in Kings County.

ECO monitors fit test for State Trooper
ECOs Grogan and Schuck fit testing a State Trooper in Brooklyn

Not an Alligator - Schenectady County

On April 27 at 9:45 a.m., ECOs responded to reports of a possible alligator siting at Steinmetz Park in Schenectady. The ECOs canvassed the park for signs of an alligator and found none. With the aid of binoculars, the responding officers observed a large common snapping turtle with a 16-inch carapace/shell just below the surface of the water, which could have been mistaken as an alligator swimming. A second canvass of the pond's edge revealed no tracks along the shoreline. The Schenectady Police Department has set up a portable camera pole overlooking the pond for future continuous observation. Area residents should call the DEC Law Enforcement Dispatch Center at 1-844-DEC-ECOs (1-844-332-3267) to report any additional sightings.

Blurry photo of large aquatic animal
Photos sent to DEC of alleged alligator

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