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For Release: Wednesday, March 31, 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 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State. 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.

"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).

Burn Ban Keeps ECOs Busy - Greene County
Throughout the month of March, ECOs across the State increased patrols for illegal open burns. Dry conditions combined with high winds can easily lead to wildfires. The statewide prohibition on the open burn of brush began on March 16 and lasts through May 14. Since the beginning of the ban, ECOs in Greene County have responded to eight open burn calls with tickets issued for burning construction and demolition (C&D) debris, violating the burn ban, and failing to remain in attendance of a campfire. Burning C&D debris and garbage is prohibited year-round. Burning can emit potentially harmful chemicals and be difficult to extinguish. Even in heavy rain, one pile cited by ECOs reignited an hour after the landowner doused it with water. For more information on how to prevent pollution and wildfires visit DEC's website.

ECO vehicle parked outside of a house that has a smoldering and smoking pile on the property
ECO Smith responded to burning C&D debris in Greene County

Charred remains of wood, ash and burned grass around a campfire
A campfire - allowed during the burn ban - was left unattended overnight and spread to surrounding grass

partly burned pile of garbage
It is never legal to burn garbage

The Goose is Loose - Queens County
On March 15, ECOs Michalet and Milliron were conducting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shellfish checks during low tide at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens County when they noticed a Canada Goose struggling to walk. After a closer look, the ECOs discovered the goose had fishing line wrapped around each leg. The Officers successfully removed the lines without injury and the goose flew away. ECO Milliron collected the green braided line and now uses it as a teaching aid about the effect of litter and pollution on the environment and the species directly affected.

Close up of a goose foot with fishing line wrapped around the ankle
Braided fishing line attached to goose's legs

An ECO on a muddy beach freeing a goose
Jamaica Bay goose is freed

Noises in the Dark - Steuben County
On March 16, ECO Baker received reports from New York State Police of a dead bear in Bradford. ECO Baker responded, along with ECOs Fuerch and Dussault. The Officers determined the bear had been shot in the head and interviewed the suspect. The man said he was in his house getting tools when he came out and was startled by an animal approximately 20 yards away. The man went back into the house and grabbed his spotlight and gun and then realized it was a bear. The man said he yelled and shot in the air to frighten the bear, but when it didn't leave, he shot the bear. The suspect was charged with taking a bear out of season and multiple other violations.

Suspect in the Woods - Greene County
On March 16, while patrolling the Catskill Creek area, ECO Smith received a request from a Greene County Sherriff's Deputy for assistance with a traffic stop in the town of Catskill. A suspect fled the stopped vehicle into a nearby wooded area, and the Deputy discovered a handgun and 30-round magazine inside the vehicle. ECO Smith responded and entered the wooded area with a Greene County Sheriff's Deputy K9 unit. ECO Smith and the K9 unit made their way through a brushy wet area adjacent to Route 23 when the K9 unit picked up the trail that led them to the suspect, who was spotted in an open area. ECO Smith and the Deputy apprehended the subject, who was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, obstructing governmental administration, criminal impersonation, criminal possession of a controlled substance, and aggravated unlicensed operation. New York State Police also assisted in this case.

Turkey Caught Breaking and Entering - Erie County
On March 23, an Erie County woman had a rude awakening when a turkey broke into her home. The woman heard a large bang and crash from her upstairs bedroom and discovered a turkey had busted through a glass window. The woman confined the bird to an upstairs bathroom by closing the door until ECO Machnica arrived to assist. The turkey flew around the bathroom, crashing into mirrors and walls, leaving broken glass everywhere. ECO Machnica contacted ECO Koepf for assistance to remove the turkey. The two Officers used a neighbor's fishing net to pin down the turkey and then grabbed the bird and brought it outside before it could cause further damage. The ECOs then set the turkey free and helped the woman clean-up the mess left behind.

a wild turkey standing on top of various household items in the bathroom
Turkey perched atop the mess created in bathroom of Erie County home

An ECO holds the large turkey inside a bathroom
Wayward turkey found in bathroom of Erie County residence

Pups on Thin Ice - Greene County
On March 24, ECO Smith received a call from State Police in Catskill about two dogs that fell through the ice on the Potic Reservoir in the town of Cairo. A motorist driving by the reservoir saw the dogs struggling in the broken ice and called police for help. ECO Smith responded to the location and found one of the dogs had freed itself from the ice and made it to shore while the other animal was still stuck on the broken ice approximately 70 feet from the shoreline. Utilizing a throw bag and Personal Flotation Device (PFD), ECO Smith accessed the ice and shuffled out to the dog. The Officer pulled the dog from the water and slid her off the ice on the PFD. ECO Smith eventually located the owner of the dogs and returned the pets to their home. The owner said the dogs had escaped their home by digging and removing a barricade.

partially iced-over body of water
Throw bag used during rescue was extended approximately
50 feet from the shoreline; Arya the dog was stuck 20 feet further out on the ice

Dog laying down on a welcome mat outside of a door
Arya safely returned to her owner

Fish Stocking - Dutchess County
On March 25, ECO Eyler assisted DEC's Region 3 Fisheries staff with stocking trout. Tens of thousands of fish were released into Sprout Creek, Fishkill Creek, and Wappinger Creek. A preceding day of rain certainly helped the young fish. Trout season opens April 1 and new regulations will take effect then as well. Anglers should consult the new 2021 Fishing Regulations Guide before hitting the water. The new guide is available at DEC's website to download and print and will soon be available at License Issuing Agents statewide. Anglers can also use DEC's new Trout Stream Fishing Map to find trout fishing opportunities and get information about stocking, fishing access, season dates, and regulations. Links to the map and a user guide are available on DEC's website.

an ECO kneels at water's edge and holds a tube that has fish coming out of it for stocking
Trout stocking in Dutchess County

K9 Cramer Tracks Down Suspected Hunter - Suffolk County
On March 26, a Westchester County man signed an Order on Consent and paid a $1,200 fine related to the illegal taking of a deer at Nissequogue River State Park. On Oct. 6, 2019, ECO DeRose spotted a man walking on a side road near the park and became suspicious that the subject may have been illegally hunting. After securing his patrol vehicle, ECO DeRose returned to the area on foot, but the man was gone. The Officer deployed K9 Cramer, which located evidence of a deer being taken in the park, including a bow, camo sweatshirt, and bloody arrow that matched those in the quiver of the bow. ECO DeRose worked with a local archery shop to track down the purchaser of the bow. With assistance from Environmental Conservation Investigator Sulkey, ECO DeRose contacted the hunter, who lives in Westchester County but whose hunting license showed an address not far from the park, and he claimed his bow had been stolen. However, as ECO DeRose presented more evidence against him, the hunter eventually admitted to shooting a doe in the State Park and fleeing in his vehicle once he noticed K9 Cramer and ECO DeRose on the other side of the road.

New York State DEC staff 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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