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For Release: Wednesday, February 3, 2021

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In 2020, the 298 ECOs and Investigators across the state responded to 29,673 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 11,952 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-one marks New York's Conservation Police Officers' 141st anniversary. In 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State.

"DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers are working hard in communities across New York to protect natural resources by upholding our state's stringent laws and regulations and protecting public safety," Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Our ECOs are expertly trained to perform their duties in every setting-from cities to wilderness-and continue to adapt to meet new and emerging challenges as they build on their longstanding commitment to protect New York's environment."

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).

Injured Hawk Gets a Helping Hand - Putnam County
On Jan. 25, while on patrol, ECO Crisafulli received reports that a passerby spotted an injured hawk off the Putnam County Bike Path in Brewster. ECO Crisafulli responded and located the red-shouldered hawk on a nearby woodpile. It was unable to fly away due to an injured wing. ECO Crisafulli safely captured the hawk and transported it to a wildlife rehabilitator where it's expected to make a full recovery.

Injured hawk in a dog crate
Injured hawk prepared for transport to a rehabilitation facility

Small Plane Crash - Nassau / Suffolk County
On Jan. 10, ECO DeRose and K9 Cramer were training in a wooded area of Farmingdale State College when a family approached claiming a plane appeared to crash just north of the woods. ECO DeRose immediately contacted Suffolk County Police which had not received any calls about a crash in the area. He canvassed nearby roads and spotted Nassau County Police units at a local transfer station. ECO DeRose approached to see a small, double-engine plane had crashed. While emergency personnel cut portions of the cabin away to free the pilot, ECO DeRose coordinated with local fire departments to determine whether fuel spilled and that emergency crews were using proper fire suppression. The pilot was removed and transported to a local hospital. The local airport rescue team later confirmed that the pilot reported both engines failed because they likely ran out of fuel. ECO DeRose worked with DEC's Spill Response team to confirm a minimal amount of fuel was spilled, contained, and had minimal environmental impacts.

Photo of small plane that has crashed in front of a building
Small plane crash near Farmingdale State College

Close-up of small plane debris in the bushes
Small plane crash near Farmingdale State College

Snowmobile Fire and Crash - Fulton County
On Jan. 23, while conducting a snowmobile patrol on trails in the Town of Caroga, ECOs Manns and Hilliard responded to two dangerous snowmobile incidents. First, they came across a snowmobile on fire. The operator was not injured but the snowmobile was destroyed. A short time later, the two officers were flagged down for a personal-injury snowmobile accident where the operator went off the trail and collided with trees. The operator suffered only minor injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital for further treatment. New York State reminds snowmobilers to ride responsibly while enjoying the state's abundant trails - recommendations and details about snowmobile safety courses can be found on New York State Parks website.

ECO approaches charred remains of snowmobile in the snow
ECO Hilliard responding to a snowmobile fire in Fulton County

ECO putting caution tape up around the burned snowmobile
ECO Hilliard marks the burnt snowmobile to alert other riders

New York State DEC staff also continue to serve in leadership roles at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the state. For information about efforts to vaccinate New Yorkers and to check eligibility for vaccinations, go to New York State Department of Health's COVID-19 Vaccine website.

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