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For Release: Thursday, October 15, 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.

Two-thousand-and-twenty 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).

11th Annual Jefferson County Youth Waterfowl Hunt
Eight young hunters and ECOs from Jefferson County recently joined together to learn about safely hunting waterfowl. On Sept. 13, the group met at the Sackets Harbor Sportsman's Club for an education and safety day where ECOs explained rules and regulations, hunting strategies and calling, and safety precautions, and took the young hunters shooting at the on-site range. The following Saturday, officers took participants afield for the Northeastern Zone youth waterfowl hunt weekend. It was a chilly morning with temperatures around 30 degrees, but it was well worth it as 17 ducks and two geese were harvested before the day's end. This is the eleventh year the event, sponsored by the New York Conservation Officers Association and the Northern New York Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, was held at the Sportsman's Club. These events work to foster a positive relationship between the state's wildlife protectors and the youth that will also hopefully become lifelong conservationists.

ECO supervising a youth hunter at a gun range
ECOs instruct young hunters ahead of waterfowl hunting event

Two hunters sit at the edge of the water while waterfowl hunting
A crisp morning in Jefferson County for the 11th annual youth waterfowl hunt

Joint Investigation Nabs Opening Day Bear Poacher - Ulster County
On Sept. 28, ECOs Walraven and Johnson charged a 63-year-old New Jersey man with several misdemeanor charges and a violation for hunting a black bear with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence, and unlawfully taking a black bear. The charges stem from an investigation in the Town of Wawarsing, Ulster County, where a complaint led officers to discover a bear shot on opening day of the early bear season with the help of bait piles. Molasses, corn, and sardines were stashed behind a nearby residence. ECOs Walraven and Johnson contacted Lieutenant Sutton of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for assistance and he seized the bear hide at a local taxidermist and turned it over to the officers for evidence. Faced with the evidence against him, the New Jersey man eventually confessed to the crimes. If convicted, he faces thousands of dollars in fines and up to a year in jail. Any person charged with an offense or offenses are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Joint Effort Leads to Successful Closure in Sullivan County Dumping Case - Sullivan County
On Sept. 30, a Sullivan County man pleaded guilty in connection with an illegal dumping case investigated by DEC in the town of Thompson. On July 13, ECO Parker with. ECO Parker arrived at the site of an illegal dumping case after received a call from the Sullivan County Sherriff's Office. He was met by Deputy Oquendo and the officers searched through the trash, which mostly consisted of construction and demolition debris. The officers then interviewed several individuals in the area who were having their houses remodeled. One of the homeowners advised the officers that they had hired an individual to remove the waste several weeks prior, providing them with the man's first name and phone number. The officers met with the suspect who admitted to the illegal dumping, stating that his trailer had gotten a flat tire so he decided to dump the garbage in the closest place he could find. Tim Nash, of Fallsburg, pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $1,500 plus applicable court fees.

large piles of debris and garbage in a field
Illegally dumped construction debris in Sullivan County

Finger Lakes Regional Youth Deer Hunt - Seneca County
On Oct. 10 and 11, ECOs took part in the 6th Annual Finger Lakes Regional Youth Deer Hunt at Deer Haven Park, LLC in Romulus. This year's event started with the mandatory pre-hunt instructional and shooting range session where young hunters received a refresher on firearm safety and hunter ethics. They were accompanied by ECO mentors from DEC regions 6, 7, 8, and 9 during the event. Over the course of the weekend, the youth hunters harvested 19 whitetails, making for a very successful hunt. Prizes donated by sponsors of the weekend hunt were also awarded. The combination of conservation, ethics, safety, and appreciation of wildlife and habitat are the overriding goals of this event since its inception. DEC thanks the event sponsors, volunteers, and mentors that made this another successful youth hunting weekend.

Group photo of youth hunters and ECOs with their bounties
Sixth annual youth deer hunting event in Seneca County

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