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For Release: Wednesday, May 12, 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).

Striped Bass Busts:

K9 Cramer Finds Illegal Catches - Nassau County
On April 8, seven days before the opening of striped bass season, ECOs Pabes and Macropoulos conducted surveillance at a popular fishing spot where the Officers watched a group of anglers catch at least two bass without releasing the fish. The ECOs observed the fishermen walk out of sight with their catch and return without the fish. The ECOs, including K9 Cramer, approached the fishing party who claimed they had not caught anything. K9 Cramer quickly alerted the Officers to an area where the anglers had stashed a total of 11 out-of-season striped bass, most of which would have been undersized if the season were open. Officers issued tickets to four fishermen for possession of striped bass out of season, returnable to the First District Court of Nassau County.

ECO and K9 pose for photo with bass on ground in front of them
K9 Cramer and his "catch" for the night

A Dog's Nose Knows- Nassau County
On April 23, ECOs called in K9 Cramer to investigate two anglers observed catching a striped bass that appeared to be undersized. When confronted, both fishermen insisted they did not catch anything. ECO DeRose brought in K9 Cramer and the four-legged officer quickly located a fully concealed undersized striped bass under a fallen tree. Before long, K9 Cramer found three more undersized fish in the area. The ECOs issued both fishermen tickets for possessing undersized striped bass and possessing over the daily limit of one striped bass. One of the anglers was well known to both ECOs, as this incident marks the third time this season officers have caught him with illegal striped bass. Consequently, the ECOs seized his fishing poles and tackle. The tickets are returnable to the First District Court of Nassau County.

Fish Bag Snagged - Nassau County
On April 24, ECO DeRose received a call from a complainant reporting nearby anglers who had caught a small striped bass but did not return it to the water. ECO DeRose reached out to ECO Perkins to assist and both Officers quickly responded. While ECO Perkins interviewed the fishermen, ECO DeRose and K9 Cramer searched the adjacent area. Although the fishermen all said they did not catch anything, K9 Cramer's nose proved otherwise. The dog detected a bag hidden in a space in the bulkhead just above the incoming tide. Confronted with the evidence, one fisherman stepped forward and admitted the fish belonged to him. Officers seized the fish and ticketed the angler.

Catching the Run - Suffolk County
ECOs Simmons and Della Rocco worked a late shift on April 24 in hopes of protecting the striped bass migrating through Long Island waters. What started as a slow night picked up quickly when rumors spread among anglers that there were fish to be caught on the North Shore near Stony Brook. Using night vision, ECO Simmons lasered in on a group of anglers. After a while, the group started pulling striped bass up on the beach. In a matter of minutes, two anglers had caught and kept five undersized striped bass. ECO Simmons and Della Rocco confronted the subjects, found the fish, and issued four tickets for possession of undersized striped bass over the possession limit.

Additional Division of Law Enforcement Actions:

Revoked and Still Hunting - Wayne County
In April, a Wayne County man paid a fine for a hunting-related incident that happened last year. On Dec. 6, 2020, ECO Thomas received a call about a suspect in possession of a deer. Officers were aware that the subject's hunting licenses had been revoked for deer jacking and trespass. ECO Thomas was an hour away at the time of the call, so he asked deputies from the Wayne County Sheriff's office to locate the suspect. When they arrived, the Deputies found the man in his garage cutting up a deer. ECO Thomas arrived and interviewed the subject, who admitted to shooting the deer earlier that day with a rifle. ECO Thomas noticed other deer parts throughout the garage and the man confessed to shooting three doe during the gun season and one small buck with his bow during bow season. ECO Thomas confiscated the deer parts and antlers and charged the suspect with five counts of illegal take of wildlife, five counts of hunting while revoked, and five counts of possession of an untagged deer. The subject settled the case administratively for $1,250 and faces a possible five-year suspension of his hunting license.

Wildfire Response - Ulster County
On April 23, while patrolling local streams for trout fishing violations in the town of Wawarsing, ECO Walraven noticed a large plume of smoke emanating from the side of a local mountain. Knowing the increased threat of spring wildfires, the ECO responded to the area and was met by several local fire departments who quickly got the fire under control. The fire, sparked by a downed power line, scorched several acres of land. The scene was turned over to DEC Forest Rangers for further investigation.

ECO and emergency response vehicles on side of road in smoky woods
Wildfire sparked by a downed power line

Operation Early Bird - Dutchess County
On May 1, ECO Wamsley received a tip about possible turkey baiting in the town of Dover, Dutchess County. In response, the ECO planned to conduct surveillance in the area for Operation Early Bird the following morning. Under the cover of darkness, ECO Wamsley made his way to a good vantage point and concealed himself. As the sun rose, numerous turkeys came to the area, pecking and scratching in the alleged baiting area. When a large tom entered, ECO Wamsley heard the unmistaken boom of a shotgun ring out and quickly ran toward the sound. The ECO found two individuals standing over the dead bird. One subject was holding a shotgun while the other held a camera. During his investigation, ECO Wamsley discovered a large amount of corn spread throughout the woods. He issued two tickets to the individual who shot the turkey for hunting turkeys with the aid of bait and the illegal take of protected wildlife. The turkey was seized and donated to a local family. Summonses are returnable to the town of Dover Court.

ECO kneeling on grass with deceased turkey and confiscated gun in front of him
ECO Wamsley with confiscated turkey and shotgun used to take it

Roadside Gobblers - Steuben County
On May 2, ECO Gross received a complaint from a man who witnessed the illegal harvest of two turkeys on private land in the town of Caton. At approximately 8:45 a.m., the witness observed a black pickup truck stop on the roadway and one hunter run out into the field, grab two turkeys, and run back to the truck. The witness obtained license plate information from the truck. ECO Gross responded to the scene and recovered blood, feathers, and two 12-gauge shell casings of different makes from the roadway. After collecting the evidence, ECO Gross ran the plate and obtained the vehicle owner's information. ECO Gross and Lt. Lochner interviewed the two hunters and obtained the name of a third subject who drove the truck. The officers determined that one of the hunters did not have a turkey permit at the time of the incident and had purchased it after ECO Gross contacted them. ECO Gross issued four misdemeanors and nine violations to the three men. Charges included: possessing loaded guns in motor vehicles; discharging firearms from a public roadway; taking wildlife from a public roadway; killing turkeys except as permitted; hunting turkey without a permit; failure to immediately tag turkey; and hunting turkey with other than legal size shot. The turkey meat was donated to a local family.

Red-Handed - Suffolk County
On May 8, while on patrol, ECO DeRose noticed a U-Haul truck on the shoulder of a roadway in Suffolk County. The ECO made a U-turn, turned off his vehicle lights, and watched. The driver eventually got out of the truck, opened the lift gate, and began emptying the truck's contents onto the side of the roadway, directly in front of a 'No Dumping' sign. ECO DeRose approached the driver, who immediately said he would clean up the material dumped on the side of the road. ECO DeRose took the subject up on his offer and watched as he cleaned up the mess. Before allowing the subject to leave, the ECO wrote a summons for unlawful disposal of solid waste, returnable to the Suffolk County District Court.

Man behind open box truck, looking inside
U-Haul truck in dumping case parked on roadway

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