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For Release: Wednesday, November 25, 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).

Mystery Donation of Ivory - New York County

On Nov. 7, ECOs Lovgren and Michalet responded to a call from a thrift store in Manhattan that received several bags of what appeared to be carvings made from ivory from an anonymous donor. The manager of the thrift store took to social media to find out who would be best to contact about inspecting the suspected ivory and that led her to DEC. ECOs Lovgren and Michalet inspected the contents of the donation and confirmed it to be genuine ivory. All ECOs are trained to identify ivory and other items from endangered species. Of the 500 pieces donated, the majority were found to be imported from India and Hong Kong. The sale of ivory is prohibited by law, except with a permit from DEC in very limited circumstances and the donation of ivory is severely restricted except under permit from DEC. DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, along with Federal Agents, have hosted Ivory Crush events in Times Square and Central Park over the years to bring awareness and deter the illegal commercialization of ivory. Though many protections are in place globally, the fight against the illegal commercialization of ivory continues and New York City is one of the main hubs for the sale of ivory in North America. For more information on the illegal sale of ivory and frequently asked questions visit DEC's website.

ECO sitting at a table with a magnifying glass inspecting ivory pieces
ECO Lovgren inspecting seized ivory
ECO sorting pieces of ivory that have been laid out on a large table
ECO Parmelee sorting through items made from ivory

A Deer at the Ballpark - Monroe County

On Nov. 8, the City of Rochester Police Department contacted ECO Muchow to assist with a deer trapped in a gate at Frontier Field, home of the Rochester Red Wings baseball team. Rochester officers tried to push the deer through the gate but were unsuccessful. ECO Muchow asked an employee of Frontier Field for tools to try to bend the bars to free the deer. The employee came through with two chain hoists that worked perfectly to make a little more room for ECO Muchow to lift the deer and pushed her through. The deer ran away and did not appear to be injured.

Deer with its back end stuck in the metal bars of a fence
Deer trapped in a gate at a Rochester baseball field

"Spooky" Skull - Orange County

On Nov. 15, ECO Carl learned that a cadet from West Point Military Academy found a deer skull with 10-point velvet antlers. The deer was suspected to have died several months ago due to an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in Orange County. The cadet posted photos of the unique skull and antlers on social media, leading other West Point staff to contact DEC. In coordination with West Point Military Police's Environmental Conservation Unit Sergeant, the deer skull was voluntarily forfeited into his possession. It will be offered to the Department of Natural Resources at West Point to be used as an educational tool. The cadet was warned that the possession of any part of protected wildlife, other than those permitted by the Environmental Conservation Law, is illegal.

photo of decomposed deer skull

Photos posted to social media of the deer skull
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