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For Release: Wednesday, June 23, 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).

Deer Jacking - Jefferson County

On June 2, three individuals pleaded guilty and paid fines for charges related to the illegal taking of deer in Jefferson County in 2020. Last year on Dec. 5, ECO Jackson received a call from a resident who saw a spotlight shining in the field across from his home and heard a gunshot and a vehicle rev its engine before speeding away. ECO Jackson responded and located a dead buck in the field. The ECO remained at the location with the expectation that the shooter would return to recover the animal and called in Lt. Bartoszewski to help canvass the area. Lt. Bartoszewski located a dead doe in the area, and a few hours later, the two Officers heard a gunshot ring out. After determining where the shot originated, the ECOs located an older model Dodge minivan with three subjects inside. The men had two spotlights, two rifles, and a shotgun. A blue tarp in the rear of the van had dried blood and deer hair on it. The subjects admitted to shooting at a deer in the area, but would not take responsibility for the dead buck or doe found nearby. The three men were arrested and arraigned on multiple charges including taking deer with the aid of a spotlight, possession of a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, and discharging a firearm from a public highway. The subjects appeared in the Town of Ellisburg Court, pleaded guilty, and each agreed to a civil penalty of $1,000.

ECO poses for picture with large, deceased deer
ECO Jackson with illegally taken deer

Fish Out of Season - Long Island

During a recent patrol at the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Fire Island, ECOs Cacciola and Perkins observed a fisherman casting a line into the Fire Island Inlet. The Officers checked in with the angler and discovered that he possessed a black plastic bag in a cooler with one Bluefish and one Tautog. Not currently in season, the Tautog was also undersized at 14 inches. The ECOs charged the angler with taking a fish out of season and catching an undersized fish.

Large flat fish next to measuring tape
The 14-inch out-of-season tautog from Fire Island Inlet

Unauthorized UTV - Long Island

After ECOs finished issuing the summons for the undersized fish on Fire Island, the Officers responded to a call from New York State Park Police about an unauthorized utility terrain vehicle (UTV) on the beach at Democratic Point, an area where 4x4 vehicles are allowed with the appropriate permit. ECOs Cacciola and Perkins were first on scene and observed three individuals lounging on the beach next to the unauthorized UTV. The group claimed they did not know they were breaking any laws. The ECOs escorted the group back to their trailer, which was illegally parked in the area, and turned the case over to State Park Police for enforcement.

Park Police towing away illegal UTV
State Park Police with unauthorized UTV

Illegally Possessed Fawn - Greene County

On June 3, ECOs Smith and Palmateer investigated a complaint about an illegally possessed whitetail fawn. ECO Smith attempted to contact the subject, who was actively avoiding law enforcement. In response, the Officers waited outside the subject's home for several hours before he emerged from the residence with the fawn. The ECOs apprehended the man and after interviewing him, learned that he had illegally possessed the fawn for about four days. The ECOs transported the fawn to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Greene County, where it was determined to be malnourished. The man was issued a ticket for possessing protected wildlife without a permit, returnable to the Town of Cairo Court.

Two ECOs kneeling for photo with fawn
COs Smith and Palmateer with illegally possessed fawn

Honorary Vessel Captain of A4 - Marine District, NYC

On June 8, ECOs Pansini and Milliron conducted a ride-along aboard DEC Marine Enforcement Unit (MEU) Vessel A4 with a very special guest. Six-year old Rosie Ramirez, the daughter of a Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant, was the honorary vessel captain for the day. Rosie is currently battling a rare childhood cancer and travels regularly from Florida to New York City with her mother for treatment. A big fan of boats, Rosie wished for a tour of the Big Apple's waterways and ECOs were happy to oblige. Accompanying Rosie was her mother Nikki Ramirez, as well as New York State Troopers Soares, Ruiz, and Reyes.

MEU ECOs set a course south along the East River and into New York Harbor to get a close look at the Statue of Liberty. Rosie learned some nautical phrases and was tasked with letting the crew know when the boat was ready to go fast, which she loved. Upon arrival to Lady Liberty, the group was met by two vessels from the New York City Fire Department's Marine Division for a water display using their water cannons. Meanwhile, up above, the New York Police Department's Aviation Unit conducted a low fly-by, to provide Rosie with a view of the helicopter up close and in action. When the displays were finished, Rosie got to meet members of the U.S. Coast Guard aboard one of their vessels.

ECOs were thrilled to be able to participate in this memorable day for Rosie and her family.

ECOs and Statepolice pose for picture on boat with little girl in a colorful tutu
ECO Milliron, Honorary Captain Rosie, ECO Pansini, and Trooper Soares on A4

Jaywalking Snapping Turtle - Kings County

On June 9, ECO Lovgren responded to a call about a turtle seen crossing a busy intersection in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Employees from a nearby auto body shop captured the turtle and kept it safe until the ECO arrived. Identified as a native snapping turtle, New York's official state reptile, the species can live an average of 30 to 40 years and is notorious for crossing roads to lay their eggs during this time of year. ECO Lovgren took possession of the turtle and released it back into state waters.

ECO stands holding large snapping turtle
ECO Lovgren with snapping turtle captured crossing a busy Brooklyn street

Surprising Eagle Fight - Nassau County

On June 10, Lieutenant Reilly received a call for help from Muttontown Police. The Officers responded to a residence where the homeowner had heard a ruckus in his backyard and was surprised to see two bald eagles fighting on his lawn. When the Muttontown Police Officers arrived, the winning male had already flown away but the other adult male was sitting stunned along the bushes. Lt. Reilly and ECO Small responded and called a local rehabilitator with raptor experience to assist in the capture and care of the animal. The ECOs and Muttontown Police Officers assisted in corralling the animal and the rehabilitator put the eagle into a carrier. The eagle had cuts on its head and feet and was taken to a veterinarian for evaluation.

Capsized Vessel - Hampton Bays

On June 10, while checking anglers in Hampton Bays, ECO McCabe heard reports on Southampton Police radio that a vessel had capsized near a local waterfront restaurant. The dispatcher stated that the operator of the vessel was stranded, sitting on top of the capsized boat in Shinnecock Bay. ECO McCabe radioed the responding Southampton Town Bay Constable and offered his assistance in rescuing the boat operator. Despite windy conditions, rough seas, and shallow water, the Bay Constable was able to navigate their vessel close enough so the ECO could grab the stranded boater and bring him safely to shore. The boater was not injured.

Invasive Species Awareness Week - Putnam and Westchester Counties

During the week of June 7 to 11, ECOs Tompkins, Thibodeau, Crisafulli, and Franz inspected more than 10 garden centers and nurseries throughout Putnam and Westchester counties looking for prohibited invasive plant species offered for sale. Targeted plants included golden bamboo (phyllostachys aurea) and yellow groove bamboo (phyllostachys aureosulcata). The ECOs were happy to report none of the businesses inspected had invasive species for sale. The Officers spoke with the staff and the public at the garden centers and nurseries to explain how prohibited invasive species such as golden and yellow groove bamboo can cripple a native ecosystem by spreading quickly and consuming the resources relied upon by native plant species. New York State regulations regarding prohibited invasive plant species took effect in March 2015, and any prohibited invasive plant species offered for sale or introduced to a native habitat is unlawful and subject to removal and/or possible fines.

ECO checking plants at a nursery
ECO Franz checks for invasive bamboo at a garden center in Westchester County

Short Fluke - East Hampton

On June 11, while on an early morning patrol in East Hampton, ECO Boyes checked several popular fishing locations. While checking a group of commercial fishermen, the ECO observed an angler down the beach catch a fish and place it in a cooler. The Officer went down to the beach to see how the angler was making out and found a cooler with several porgies and an undersized fluke. The angler was ticketed for possession of undersized fluke, returnable to Town of East Hampton Court.

Striped Bass Run - Suffolk County

On June 11, during a striped bass enforcement detail, ECO McCabe spent the late-night hours checking anglers at popular spots in Southampton. Using a night vision scope, the ECO observed several anglers who did not return their striped bass to the water. The Officer also nabbed two fishermen with undersized striped bass. All violators were written tickets, returnable to Southampton Town Court.

Striped Bass are a highly sought-after fish, accessible from shore, as well as boats. Anglers targeting striped bass are often rewarded with a tough fight and great tasting meat. DEC regulations allow anglers to only keep striped bass between 28 and 35 inches in length and circle hooks are required when using bait.

View through night-vision lense of ECO checking fisherman's catches
ECO McCabe checking anglers at night

Not the Winning Fish - Suffolk County

On June 12, ECOs Dickson and Cacciola conducted a boat patrol for marine fishing enforcement on the Long Island Sound near Stony Brook, the same day a fluke tournament was being hosted by a local yacht club. During the tournament, the ECOs discovered one of the boats in possession of two undersized fluke measuring 16.5 and 18 inches. The captain of the vessel said he was unaware that the minimum size of fluke is 19 inches. Officers issued the subject a ticket for possession of undersized fluke returnable to Suffolk First District Court.

Two flat fish next to measuring tape
Undersized fluke found by ECO Cacciola

Injured Bear - Sullivan County

On June 12, ECO Grose received reports of an injured bear in the town of Forestburgh. The ECO arrived at the scene and located a yearling bear with two leg injuries. A local wildlife rehabilitator and staff arrived to assist and the group was able to tranquilize and capture the bear. The bear will be evaluated for further injuries and treated as needed. There was no immediate information regarding what caused the bear's injuries.

Tranquilized bear in large animal crate
Injured bear being treated at rehabilitation facility

Eagle Rescue - Schoharie County

On June 13, ECO Burgess received a call reporting an injured eagle on I-90 westbound near Canajoharie. New York State Department of Transportation workers removing debris from the road noticed the eagle attempt to fly from thick grass off the highway to no avail. ECO Burgess waded through eight-foot phragmites and swampy conditions with a net and succeeded in getting the injured bird. It is believed the eagle was struck by a vehicle and ended up trapped in the swampy area off the roadway. ECO Burgess transported the bird to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center, where it tested positive for lead exposure and is being treated for its injuries.

Injured Eagle in large pet crate
Injured eagle recovering at wildlife rehab center

Uninvited Pool Guests - Nassau County

On June 15, ECO Small responded to a call in Nassau County that is fairly common this time of the year. A homeowner requested help for unwanted guests in their swimming pool-a mallard and eight ducklings. With the help of a local wildlife rehabilitator, ECO Small used large nets to capture the family of ducks and release them to a nearby pond. Go to DEC's Facebook page to watch a video of the duck release.

Ducklings in a white bucket
Eight ducklings removed from swimming pool

Ducks swimming on a pond
Hen and ducklings released at a nearby pond

Fawn Rescue - Schoharie County

On June 17, ECO Burgess received a call from Forest Ranger Skudlarek reporting an injured fawn at the base of a waterfall overlook at Mine Kill State Park in Schoharie County. A park official, concerned that the public might attempt to rescue the fawn and put themselves at risk of injury, reached out to DEC for help. ECO Burgess and Ranger Skudlarek made their way to the bottom of the falls with equipment to secure the deer. While Officer Burgess captured the deer and secured it for transport up the bank, Ranger Skudlarek created a rope system to lift the packaged fawn safely to the top. The combination of the ECO's wildlife knowledge and Forest Ranger's rope and rescue training resulted in a successful rescue. Once safely at the top, the Officers transported the fawn to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for treatment.

ECO kneels next to swaddled injured fawn during rescue
ECO Burgess with the rescued fawn

Crate with fawn inside being pulled up side of cliff by ECO and Forest Ranger
ECO Burgess and Forest Ranger Skudlarek work together, using ropes, to pull injured fawn to safety

ECO and Forest Ranger pose for photo with fawn in crate after rescue
ECO Burgess and Forest Ranger Skudlarek prepare injured fawn for wildlife rehabilitation

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