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For Release: Thursday, November 12, 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).

Tiger (Tooth) King - Queens County
On Sept. 11, a Queens County man was fined for his role in the illegal sale of a tiger tooth. Wildlife parts of endangered species like tigers are prohibited from sale in New York. The tooth was offered for sale on Craigslist for $500. On Aug. 17, ECOs Lovgren and Traynor went undercover to arrange "buying" the tooth pendant and met with the seller in Queens. Igor Mukhin was issued a Notice of Violation for selling endangered wildlife parts and the case was closed with a fine of $500, with $250 suspended. The tiger tooth was forfeited to the State of New York and will be used for educational purposes.

photo of a gold-embellished tiger tooth
Seized Tiger Tooth Pendant

K-9 Deming Assists in Poacher Bust - Sullivan County
On Oct. 27, two Sullivan County men appeared in the Town of Bethel Court to answer charges related to a poaching incident earlier this year. On Mar. 24, ECOs Wood, Parker, and Doroski received reports from a concerned citizen who advised officers he saw fresh blood in the snow and on the back of a white van just up the road in Bethel. ECO Wood deployed K-9 Deming and located a spent shell casing while ECOs Parker and Doroski investigated the van and noticed what appeared to be deer hair on the back of the van and blood inside of it. Officers interviewed residents at that location, Oscar Casas and Julio Dubon. When questioned, the men admitted to shooting a deer from a vehicle. Casas stated he shot the deer the previous night from his vehicle after the sun had set with the aid of a spotlight and Dubon, a passenger in the car, admitted to assisting with the take of the deer. Dubon showed ECOs where the deer was located inside a shed behind the residence. Officers seized the deer and the rifle and charged Casas with taking deer except as permitted, possession of a loaded long gun in a motor vehicle, and taking deer with the aid of an artificial light. Dubon was charged with being an accessory to the illegal take of a deer, taking deer except as permitted, and taking big game out of season. Both Casas and Dubon agreed to a civil compromise in court and were fined $2,200 plus applicable court fees.

ECO K9 laying in the snow
K9 Deming keeps watch after assisting in poaching case

photo of a hand-held spotlight on the floor of a van
Spotlight used in illegal take of deer from a vehicle

photo of a debris-filled van, with some debris having blood spatter and clumps of fur on it
Deer hair and blood in back of van

Injured Owls Rescued - Columbia and Rensselaer Counties
On Nov. 8, ECOs Curinga and Davey responded to reports of two injured barred owls struck by motor vehicles in two separate locations. One of the owls was struck in the town of Copake, Columbia County, while the other was struck in the town of Brunswick, Rensselaer County. The ECOs successfully captured the owls and transported them to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center in Greene County. Both owls appeared to respond well to treatment and will hopefully be released back into the wild soon.

ECO holding two owls in his arms ECO with two owls, one cradled in his arm and the other perched on his outstretched arm
ECO Davey pictured with two barred owls being transported to wildlife rehabilitator after being struck by motor vehicles

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