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For Release: Wednesday, October 28, 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).

Moose on the Loose - Clinton County
On Oct. 9, Region 5 Wildlife staff requested help from ECOs with the removal of a young bull moose trapped in a 200-acre cow pen in the town of Clinton, Clinton County. Lieutenant Maloney and ECO Brassard, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) drone pilots, located the moose in the pasture using an aerial drone equipped with thermal imaging cameras. Once located, DEC's tranquilization team, led by Big Game Biologist Jim Stickles, chemically immobilized the moose. Lieutenant Phelps, along with ECOs LaCroix, Buffa, Fadden, and members of the property owner's family assisted the wildlife crew with removing the moose from the pasture and safely relocating it a short distance away. They fitted the moose with a radio location collar before the animal walked away, appearing to be healthy. Visit DEC's Facebook post for video and more details.

view of a moose in the woods from above
Drone footage of moose trapped in cow pasture

two ECOs standing in a field using a control box for a drone
ECOs use drone technology to find moose trapped in cow pasture

Spearing Salmon at Eighteen Mile Creek - Town of Newfane, Niagara County
In the early morning hours of Oct. 18, DEC's Division of Law Enforcement dispatch received a complaint about four men in Eighteen Mile Creek spearing and netting salmon. The complainant reported that two of the men scared the salmon while the other two men speared the fish. The caller shared a description of the poachers and waited for responding units. The responding ECO contacted the Niagara County Sheriff's Office for assistance on scene. When the Officers arrived, they spotted one of the men bringing salmon and a spear to a vehicle. The responding Officers detained the subject until the ECO arrived. The suspects face charges of fishing without a valid license, taking fish by means other than angling, illegal possession of spear on closed waters, fishing a half-hour after sunset until a half-hour before sunrise, and disturbing of waters with intent to drive fish.

photo of confiscated net and spear
Illegal fishing materials used by alleged salmon poachers

Firewood Detail Prevents Invasive Species - Tompkins County
On Oct. 23, Lieutenant Fay organized a joint firewood / invasive species checkpoint at the entrance to Robert H. Treman State Park in the town of Ithaca with a team of Zone 4 ECOs and Foresters from the DEC Division of Lands and Forests. Team members checked incoming campers for firewood transported more than 50 miles, which is a violation of state law. During the detail, the ECOs and DEC staff confiscated two bundles of firewood. The responsible parties were unaware of the regulations but after being educated about the transport of invasive pests in untreated firewood, freely turned in the unlawful firewood for proper destruction.

October is National Firewood Awareness Month and the DEC Division of Law Enforcement is assisting agency partners with outreach, education, and enforcement of firewood transportation regulations. Many people bring firewood as they head out to camp, hunt, or enjoy the great outdoors, but most don't realize their wood may be hiding the eggs, larvae, spores, adults, or even seeds of invasive threats. Transporting infested firewood allows invasive species to spread further and faster than these pests could on their own. For more information, visit DEC's website.

long line of RVs wait for ECOs to look at their firewood
Firewood detail in Tompkins County

ECOs stand at their trucks with a large amount of confiscated firewood in the back of the trucks
Left to right: ECOs Kreuger, Eisenberg, and Templeton, Forester Day, and ECO Winnick with wood unlawfully transported

Lost Hikers Located - Cortland County
On Oct. 25, ECO Kostuk responded to a call from Cortland County 911 for two lost hikers in Cuyler Hill State Forest in the town of Truxton. When Officer Kostuk arrived on the scene, he spoke to the son of the lost hikers, who stated he became separated from his parents when they chose to avoid hiking a more difficult section of the trail. The son provided ECO Kostuk with his parents' last known location and the Officer went to work. Coordinating with Cortland County Dispatch, the ECO eventually located the couple at a lodge just off the main Finger Lakes Trail. Both hikers were in good health, albeit shaken up. ECO Kostuk escorted the pair out of the woods and back to their vehicle, where they were reunited with their son.

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