Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Wednesday, May 13, 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."

Raccoons are Not Pets - New York County
On April 29, ECOs Alexander Shea and Brendan Dickson responded to a complaint about raccoon cubs being kept in an apartment in Manhattan. When the ECOs arrived at the address, the officers spoke with a couple caring for the raccoons. The couple alleged the raccoons were dropped off at their doorstep. After educating the couple that raccoons are a rabies vector species and prone to several diseases, a written warning was issued to the pair for possessing the raccoons without a Rabies Vector Species Wildlife Rehabilitator License. The raccoons were taken to a licensed rehabilitator where they are being given proper care and released when healthy and mature.

small raccoon cub in an animal crate
Raccoon cubs living it up in Manhattan

Fish Stocking - Suffolk County
On April 30, ECO Brian Farrish assisted DEC fisheries staff with stocking trout at several sites in Suffolk County and provided crowd control to ensure social distancing. DEC stocked approximately 1,750 brown and rainbow trout that day as part of the larger regional stocking effort that stocked a total of more than 16,600 trout. More pictures and details can be found on DEC's Facebook page.

Fish being emptied from a net to a bucket
Fish stocking in Suffolk County

Security at COVID-19 Testing Site - Rockland County
On May 3, ECOs performed security and speed enforcement at the entrance of the COVID-19 testing site at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area in Stony Point, Rockland County. ECOs were also stationed just outside the sampling tent where nurses tested patients driving through the site. New York State ECOs have continued to serve in many different roles at state testing sites, working alongside staff from DEC, other state agencies, and the New York Army National Guard.

ECO sitting in patrol vehicle at COVID-19 testing site
ECO Heather Carl enforcing speed limit at Anthony Wayne testing site

ECO vehicle in a large parking lot for COVID-19 testing sites with three white tents in the background
ECO Matthew Thibodeau providing security for staff in sampling tents

Red Phase Screech Owl Rehabbed and Released - Oneida County
On May 3, ECO Jeff Hull returned a Red Morph Screech Owl back to its habitat. The owl had been struck by a car on March 2, injuring its eye and affecting its ability to fly. Cornell Wildlife Clinic medicated and released the owl to Oneida County wildlife rehabilitator Judith Cusworth. After two months of rehabilitation, the owl was returned to its natural habitat in the town of Verona. Red Phase Screech Owls are uncommon, making up only one-third of the screech owl population.

ECO poses for a picture with a small owl perched on his hand
ECO Hull with Red Morph Screech Owl

Wayward Bear Gets Stuck in City in Poughkeepsie - Dutchess County
In the early morning hours of May 4, a young male bear wandered into the city of Poughkeepsie near Mansion and North Hamilton streets. The bear was likely in search of food after hibernating and the urban environment provided plentiful sources. Poughkeepsie City Police Officers and ECO Charles Eyler surrounded the bear, which was up in a tree. The officers contacted DEC's Bureau of Wildlife and technicians arrived to anesthetize the animal. The bear slid down the tree onto a pad without injury and they weighed, aged, and tagged it. ECO Eyler and the officers lifted the 165-pound animal into DEC's bear transportation trailer and took it to Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Putnam County, where it was released back into the wild without incident.

ECOs holding a young bear in a net
ECO Eyler, DEC Bureau of Wildlife technician and City of Poughkeepsie Police Officer prepare to weigh juvenile bear

Duckling Rescue - Onondaga County
On May 6, ECO Don Damrath and Geddes Police Officer Mike Sheppard reunited 15 Mallard ducklings with their mother after the ducklings fell into a storm drain at a busy intersection. A local business employee and Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection staff retrieved 12 of the ducklings, but three ducklings swam deeper into the drainpipe and refused to come out. ECO Damrath coaxed the three stragglers from the pipe using recorded duckling sounds. ECO Damrath and Officer Sheppard then secured the trio and reunited them with their siblings and mother at a nearby pond.

Three baby ducklings in a cardboard box
Rescued ducklings in Onondaga County

Striped Bass Poachers Caught with Gill Net - Ulster County
On May 7, a retired New York State Trooper fishing on the Hudson River near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge observed a gill net with several striped bass being hauled into a small vessel. As the boat returned to Charles Rider Park Boat Launch, the retired Trooper relayed the information to the Town of Ulster Police Department (UPD). UPD Officer Michael Miller identified the vessel and interviewed the boat operator until ECO Jason Smith arrived on scene. The two officers located a gill net hidden in the boat that contained 24 striped bass, 12 herring, three white perch, and two yellow bullhead. The gill net operator was issued tickets for taking fish by means other than angling; taking striped bass out of slot size; taking striped bass over the allowable limit; taking herring over the allowable limit; and failing to carry a marine registry, returnable to the Town of Ulster Court.

ECO and local law enforcement officer stand with fish lined up on the pavement in front of them
ECO Jason Smith and UPD Officer Michael Miller with illegal gill net and illegally taken fish

a tangled mess of netting, plastic jugs, and fish
Illegal gill net used to catch striped bass, herring, white perch, and yellow bullhead

Kit Rescue - Tioga County
On May 10, ECO Eric Templeton responded to the town of Nichols to investigate a report of a young fox kit stuck in a window well. Upon arrival, ECO Templeton was informed the baby fox had fallen into one of the homeowner's window wells and had been there since the previous day. The homeowner had placed a board into the window well, but the baby fox was unable to climb out. ECO Templeton put on his protective equipment, recovered the fox, and transported the animal, unharmed, to a wildlife rehabilitator in Ithaca.

An ECO holds a tiny grey fox kit in his hands after rescue
ECO Eric Templeton and rescued gray fox

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Jomo Miller
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions