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For Release: Thursday, June 11, 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. 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.

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

"From Montauk Point and 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. "Our ECOs have worked arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes, for far longer than the 50 years since DEC was created. These officers are critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment and I am confident they will continue this important mission for the next 50 years and beyond."

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).

Illegal Shellfish Harvest - Kings County
On May 21, ECOs Darren Milliron and Stephanie Anderson seized hundreds of shellfish from Jamaica Bay. The ECOs found more than 15 people harvesting shellfish along the shoreline during low tide. The waters of Jamaica Bay are uncertified by the Food and Drug Administration, making it illegal to harvest shellfish. ECOs Milliron and Anderson educated the individuals about the State's Environmental Conservation Law and the various health hazards associated with eating these shellfish. The mussels, steamers, and hard clams were then seized and safely returned to the water.

Two ECOS with buckets and nets of clams in front of them on the pavement
Hundreds of Clams Seized by ECO Milliron and ECO Anderson from Kings County

Wild Goose Chase - Westchester County
On May 25, while conducting fishing compliance checks in the Annsville Creek Preserve, ECO Daniel Franz observed a goose that appeared to be injured. After a closer look, ECO Franz discovered the goose's feet were bound together by a tangle of string. He subdued the animal, cut away the string, and freed the goose back to the water. The ECO took this opportunity to educate anglers and recreators in the area of the importance of keeping the shore free of litter.

Goose foot with string around it

Geese swimming on a body of water
Goose with foot tangled with fishing line freed and returned to the water

Clam Bust - Queens County
On May 25, while patrolling Gateway National Park, ECOs Josh Jarecki and Brent McCarthy observed a large group of people taking shellfish in Jamaica Bay, an area that is not certified for shellfish harvest by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The ECOs determined the group was too large for two officers to round up effectively, so they contacted U.S. Park Police for assistance. ECOs Jarecki and McCarthy, along with federal officers, issued summonses to 36 people. More than 2,000 illegally harvested clams were returned to the water.

buckets and bags of clams
Seized uncertified clams

Double Fawn Rescue - Putnam County
On May 30, ECO Kevin Wamsley received a call about a white-tailed deer that had been struck and killed by a car on Route 312 in the town of South East. The deceased doe had two fawns that were seen lingering near the busy highway. ECO Wamsley responded to the area and began the search for the two orphaned fawns. Not long into his search, the ECO heard the fawns calling out and headed in their direction with a large net. The fawns began to make their way toward the highway, so ECO Wamsley headed them off and stopped traffic to prevent the pair from being hit while attempting to cross the road. The first fawn was captured and secured in a safe carrier. The second fawn was caught soon after and reunited with its sibling. The fawns were transferred to a licensed rehabilitator for care until they are ready to be released back to the area where they were found.

ECO holding two faws, one under each arm
ECO Wamsley with the two orphaned fawns

Duck Day Afternoon - Nassau and Suffolk County
On June 2, ECO Chris DeRose received a call from a woman who had heard ducklings chirping in a storm drain while walking her dog in a commercial area of Suffolk County. ECO DeRose responded and found seven ducklings stuck in the bottom of four interconnected drains. Unfortunately, there were no adult ducks in the area nor standing water. ECO DeRose, with the help of a good Samaritan, removed the large storm drain grate and after getting a little creative, corralled the ducklings into one of the drains. ECO DeRose then safely removed the ducklings.

While on his way to a local rehabilitator to drop off the rescued orphan ducks, ECO DeRose received a call that a mother duck and her six ducklings had entered a nearly empty inground pool in Nassau County and could not get out. After conferring, the Officer and the wildlife rehabilitator went to check on the ducks trapped in the pool. With nets and quick hands, ECO DeRose and the rehabilitator safely removed the hen mallard and her six ducklings. Since her ducklings were approximately the same age of the newly orphaned, rescued ducklings, the 13 ducklings were released with the rescued hen in a nearby lake. After release, the hen mallard successfully accepted the orphan ducklings and the family of 14 appeared to enjoy their new home, which is much nicer than a storm drain or a swimming pool. Video of duck release is available here.

ECO with a handful of ducklings in the woods
Rescued ducklings

Red-Tailed Hawk Rescue - Fulton County
On June 2, ECO Shane Manns received a call from an individual who found an injured red-tailed hawk on the ground. The Officer responded to the area and located the hawk with an injured wing. ECO Manns gently wrapped the hawk in a blanket and placed it inside a carrier in his patrol vehicle. He transported the bird to a local, DEC-permitted rehabilitator for evaluation and care. A few days later, the rehabilitator informed ECO Manns that the hawk should make a full recovery and is set to be released soon.

ECO holding Red-Tailed Hawk wrapped in a towel
ECO Manns rescuing injured Red-tailed Hawk in Fulton County

Kestrel Falcon Rescue - Cattaraugus County
On June 5, ECO JM Powers received a phone call from a resident on Five Mile Road in Allegany reporting that his neighbors had a possible infant rare raptor that needed rehabilitation. Officer Powers arrived at the location and transported the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator at Eagle Dreams in Olean. The raptor was identified as a Kestrel and is expected to make a full recovery and released back into the wild after rehabilitation.

ECO holding a small white bird
Injured Kestral

ECOs Assist Boaters on Great Sacandaga Lake - Fulton County
On June 6, ECOs Shane Manns and Paul Pasciak were patrolling near the Broadalbin boat launch when a wind storm came through the area. Dozens of vessels began to crowd the launch due to the large waves and windy conditions. ECOs Manns and Pasciak immediately began assisting boaters, safely pulling them to shore and retrieving vessels. ECO Pasciak rescued a woman who fell overboard from a vessel near the docks and both ECOs rescued an individual who fell off of a personal watercraft and was having difficulty getting to the dock. Dozens of vessels and people safely reached the shore with assistance from the two ECOs.

ECOs and local law enforcement on a long dock helping bring a boat to the launch
ECOs Pasciak and Manns assisting boaters during wind storm on Great Sacandaga Lake

ECO Responds to Spill - Franklin County
On June 6, ECO Jennifer Okonuk assisted the New York State Police (NYSP) with a motor vehicle accident in the town of Bellmont. A tractor trailer struck the back of a SUV, injuring the driver. An undetermined amount of hydraulic fluid spilled from the truck, entering the Chateaugay River, a DEC fishing access site. NYSP ticketed the driver for following too close, and ECO Okonuk coordinated with DEC Spill Responders and the trucking company to mitigate the effects of the spill and conduct an immediate cleanup.

A large truck that has slipped down a small embankment
ECO Okonuk investigating spill from motor vehicle accident

Illegal Dumping - Onondaga County
On June 9, ECO Don Damrath, working with Syracuse Police Officer Carlos Romain, uncovered photographic and physical evidence leading to the arrests of three individuals now facing charges related to dumping construction and demolition debris (C&D) and solid waste at a vacant lot near Kirk Park. Approximately 50 cubic yards of waste, including roofing materials, waste tires, and demolition debris were dumped. Officer Romain located the rental trailer used to transport the materials and interviews helped to identify the suspects. James Alexander, George Harris Jr., and Casper E. Booker, all from Syracuse, were issued appearance tickets for unlawful disposal of solid waste. DEC Law Enforcement has a verbal agreement with all three men to clean up the site by Friday, June 12.

Photo of a house with a large amount of garbage and debris on the lawn outside.
Illegal Dumping near Kirk Park in Syracuse

Statewide COVID‐19 Response
Over the last several months, ECOs have been on the front lines of the COVID‐19 response and continue to support the mission assisting federal, state and local agencies. During this response they have filled important roles in the Incident Command System (ICS) at state COVID‐19 testing sites. Across the state, ECOs also continue their core functions and have seen an increased trend of recreational participation in hunting, fishing and boating. The public is encouraged to continue practicing social distancing while recreating. To report environmental emergencies, violations of law or to speak to an Environmental Conservation Officer call 1‐844‐DEC‐ ECOS.

ECOs loading a large trailer with white boxes of testing kits
ECOs load COVID-19 test kits into snowmobile trailer for delivery

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