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For Release: Wednesday, July 7, 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).

Illegal Pesticides - New York County
On June 2, DEC investigators and investigators from the Office of the Attorney General executed a search warrant and a covert street sweep in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan to confiscate dangerous pesticides being sold to the public. The enforcement effort, which successfully removed more than 7,700 individually packaged unregistered pesticides, was the culmination of a year-long joint undercover investigation that included surveillance, undercover controlled purchases, and laboratory analysis of the product. The investigation ultimately led investigators to a storage shed and the basement of an abandoned apartment complex where street vendors were stashing illegal products.

On the day of the sting, undercover surveillance teams watched as vendors collected illegal pesticides from the shed and basement and transported them to nearby locations for sales. Once vendors set up tables and an intent to sell was established, the surveillance teams made their approach. Simultaneously, under authority of a search warrant, the illegal structure and adjacent basement were secured and searched, and a large quantity of illegal pesticides were found. These illegal and potentially dangerous pesticides were being offered for sale to the public for use against cockroaches, fleas, bed bugs, and rodents. These products are not registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the sale or possession with the intent to sell these pesticides, is unlawful in the United States. The investigation is ongoing and for additional information about pesticide use in New York State, visit DEC's website.

white and red bottle of pesticide spray people standing in line at illegal vendor
Bottle of seized unregistered pesticides and vendor table

Operation Low Tide - Queens County
On June 10, after receiving multiple complaints of people keeping undersized marine species, shellfish from uncertified waters, and protected terrapins (commonly called turtles) during low tide, ECOs Veloski and Currey participated in Operation Low Tide, an enforcement initiative to combat the illegal taking of wildlife and shellfish in New York City. ECOs partnered with U.S. Park Police in and around Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. While patrolling the area, the Officers observed two individuals leaving the area with headlights, nets, and large totes. The Officers interviewed the subjects and discovered that two of the totes contained diamondback terrapins while the other totes contained blue crabs. In total, the subjects had captured 22 diamondback terrapins, which are a federal- and state-protected species, and 41 undersized blue crabs. The anglers were also in possession of more than the allowable limit of 50 blue crabs. Officers issued multiple summonses to the subjects for possession of protected wildlife, possession of undersized blue crabs, and possession of overlimit blue crabs. All 22 terrapins and the many illegal blue crabs were safely returned to Jamaica Bay.

Law enforcement officials stand with open crate full of turtles and crabs
ECO Veloski, USPP Officer Valega, and ECO Currey with seized diamondback terrapins and blue crabs

overhead view of crate with turtles in it
Seized diamondback terrapins

Auto Accident with Injury on State Land - Ulster County
On June 21, while patrolling Onteora Lake for freshwater fishing activity in Ulster County, a concerned citizen alerted ECO Walraven about a car accident with injuries near the lakeside parking area. ECO Walraven responded immediately and assessed the drivers for injuries. One of the drivers sustained a deep laceration to her leg in the crash. ECO Walraven provided first aid and contacted Ulster 911 to dispatch New York State Police and EMS units to the scene to assist. The driver was provided initial medical care from the responding EMS unit.

Kingston High School Graduation Security Detail - Ulster County
On June 21, ECOs Johnson and Walraven assisted the Ulster County Sheriff's Office Navigation Unit with a boat security detail at Kingston Point Beach in Kingston. A fireworks show was held at the beach in honor of the Kingston High School Graduating Class of 2021. Several boaters and beachgoers attended the event and the ECOs patrolled a security perimeter from their vessel on the Hudson River.

fireworks in the dark over water eco on boat patrolling water
ECOs Johnson and Walraven on patrol

Jet Ski Invasion - Marine Waters, New York County
On June 26, DEC Marine Enforcement Unit ECOs Pansini, Currey, and Veloski provided maritime support for the annual New York City Jet Ski Invasion. Approximately 400 jet skis traveled from Long Island City in the East River, down around the tip of Manhattan, and up the Hudson River toward the George Washington Bridge. ECOs worked as a team with the U.S. Coast Guard, New York City Police Department, New York Fire Department, U.S. Park Police, and New Jersey State Police to provide safety zones for other vessel traffic and aid stranded operators or disabled jet skis.

ECOs on boat patrolling river with NYC skyline in background
ECOs Currey and Veloski spotting the wave of jet skis approaching their security perimeter

ECO watching jet skis go by on the river
ECO Currey observing more than 400 jet skis approaching on the Hudson River

Boat Inspections - Sag Harbor Bay
On June 23, ECO Clark joined the Harbor Master of Sag Harbor, Southampton Bay Constables, and the U.S. Coast Guard to inspect more than 20 vessels and yachts in Sag Harbor Bay to ensure Marine Sanitation Devices were on board. The detail was successful as all vessels had a secure device that prevents gray water from entering the marine district. ECO Clark and USCG Montauk boarded vessels in the bay by boat in the morning and conducted additional inspections on boats docked and preparing to head out on the water. Officers conduct these checks frequently to ensure water quality is protected.

ECO and Trooper Family Rescue - Fulton County
On June 24, ECO Manns and New York State Trooper Rycek responded by boat to a report of a stranded vessel on Great Sacandaga Lake. The vessel struck a rock pile during the night and became stranded with four adults and three children on board. The boaters were unsure of their location which prompted ECO Manns to activate his emergency lights to search for the vessel. The stranded boaters soon advised that they could see the blue lights and deployed a signal flare pinpointing their exact location. The Officers reached the vessel, ensured everyone aboard was safe, secured the vessel to their boat, and towed it safely to shore.

Lake Carmel Fishing Derby - Putnam County
On June 26, ECO Tompkins joined Lake Carmel Park District members for their annual fishing derby. This year, approximately 40 anglers, the youngest just a year old, participated in the event. The anglers were broken into three age classes and competed for several prizes. ECO Tompkins assisted the competitors with baiting their hooks, casting, and unhooking their catch. The ECO also answered questions about the career of an Environmental Conservation Police Officer and the steps to become one. Overall, nine anglers were announced for first through third place in each of the age classes. The participants caught a wide range of fish including yellow perch, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, and brown bullhead.

Free Fishing Day - Otsego County
On June 26, employees at Gilbert Lake State Park joined DEC's Region 4 Fisheries staff to host a free fishing day during one of the state's annual Free Fishing Weekends. This was the first time a free fishing event was held at the park. Approximately 40 participants, mostly young people, took part in the event, catching multiple fish, including New York's most common and flashy-colored sunfish, the pumpkinseed. ECO Fetterman assisted with the event, providing guidance, education, and extra gear to many of the young anglers. Both employees and attendees were so pleased with the outcome they are planning to do it again next year.

Group poses for photo on beach at lake
ECO Fetterman and DEC and State Parks employees hold successful Free Fishing event

Illegal Thanksgiving Buck - Greene County
On June 28, ECO Palmateer completed the successful prosecution of an illegal deer case in the town of Coxsackie. The case began on Thanksgiving Day 2020, when ECO Palmateer received a call at approximately 8:30 a.m., regarding a deer potentially shot before legal shooting hours. ECO Palmateer responded to the location and interviewed the complainant who recalled hearing an early gun shot in the area. The Officer analyzed the scene and collected evidence of a freshly killed deer. After interviewing multiple parties and taking statements, the ECO located the deer, an eight-point buck, at a nearby residence. It had already been skinned and was in the process of being butchered with the head and rack in a freezer on site. After a lengthy interview, the subject admitted to shooting the deer approximately 45 minutes prior to legal shooting hours. ECO Palmateer seized the buck and issued tickets for hunting during closed hours and illegal take of whitetail deer. The subject paid $700 in fines.

buck head in black garbage back
Seized illegal buck

Revoked Hunter Gets Jail Time - Saratoga County
A revoked hunter recently received jail time for illegally taking a deer in Saratoga County. In January 2021, ECO Shaw received an anonymous tip regarding large deer antlers brought into a local taxidermist in November 2020 by a revoked hunter using another hunter's tag. ECO Shaw interviewed the licensed hunter who revealed that he had not shot the deer and had given his tags to a friend. The licensed hunter was charged with lending his tags to another. The revoked hunter eventually admitted to shooting the deer on opening day of the 2020 Southern Zone Deer Season. Officers charged the subject with hunting while revoked, killing a deer while revoked, and illegally transporting the deer. The subject was convicted in the Town of Milton Court and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

ECO sitting on back of truck holding two sets of antlers, with two more sets behind him
ECO Shaw with antlers from illegally taken deer during 2020 big game season

All Tied Up - Sullivan County
On June 29, ECO Parker responded to a complaint about a whitetail deer fawn unlawfully possessed by an individual in the town of Liberty. Upon arrival, ECO Parker noticed a taut rope connected to a pole leading into the nearby wood line. ECO Parker investigated further and located a fawn with a collar attached to a rope with a tie-out clip. The ECO then spoke to an individual in the area who admitted to taking the fawn into his possession after finding it abandoned. The subject said that he planned to take care of the fawn until it was strong enough to be on its own. ECO Parker advised the subject that only licensed wildlife rehabilitators can take possession of protected wildlife and issued him a ticket for unlawfully possessing protected wildlife, returnable to the Town of Liberty Court. ECO Parker took possession of the fawn and transported it to a wildlife rehabilitator for further care.

Fawn in leafy, grassy area laying down
Fawn held in captivity

Spill Drill - Westchester County
On June 29, ECO Franz assisted the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection of a fuel holding facility in the village of Portchester. The inspection involved giving workers a scenario in which a large quantity of oil was released into a nearby waterway. Actions included notifying the proper agencies and authorities, deploying initial containment strategies, and mobilizing an Oil Spill Recovery Organization to mitigate and remediate the oil spill. Participants must demonstrate timeliness of response, proper agency notifications, and safety of crew members for the facility to pass inspection. These unannounced inspections are crucial to ensuring facilities are prepared for potential accidents.

view from water's edge looking at fuel facility
ECO Franz and USCG assessing primary containment strategies at fuel holding facility

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