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For Release: Wednesday, August 4, 2021

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Highlights

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).

First responders on the water - Marine District NYC
While on a recent 'Secure the City' detail, ECOs responded to a report from the New York Police Department's (NYPD) Special Operation Bureau about a jet ski in distress in New York Harbor. Two individuals participated in a jet ski tour that launched from Liberty Landing and one of them suffered an arm injury while riding. DECs Division of Law Enforcement's (DLE) Unit Vessel, crewed by ECOs Pansini, Veloski, and Lovgren, responded within five minutes. Officer Lovgren administered first aid to the injured rider with a triangular sling and transported them back to Liberty Landing. When they arrived back at the marina, the party sought further medical treatment at Jersey City Medical Center.

ECO boat docked at marina
ECOs respond to jet ski injury in New York City's Marine District

Illegal dumping - East Moriches Suffolk County
On July 13, ECO Amato responded to a complaint of yard debris dumped at a DEC public boat launch site. Nine lawn and leaf bags filled with pine straw, grass, and leaves along with a few cardboard boxes were left at the East Moriches boat launch. The boxes had shipping labels with an address, which led to a possible culprit. ECO Amato interviewed a resident at the address who said he was helping out an elderly lady by removing bags and boxes from her porch and bringing them to the boat launch rather than the appropriate town facility because he said the facility was closed and he didn't want the bags in his truck overnight in the rain. Officer Amato fined the man $500 and ordered him to clean up the debris and dispose of it properly.

brown leaf bags dumped in grassy area
Debris left at DEC boat launch

Illegal dumping - Yaphank Suffolk County
On July 14, a trail camera setup by the Pine Barren's Law Enforcement Commission caught a truck with tires and a television in the bed of the truck entering a known illegal dumping area in Yaphank. The photos clearly show the truck entering with the debris and leaving empty. ECOs tracked down the driver at his residence and he admitted to dumping the tires. Officers issued a $250 fine to the resident under the condition he properly disposes of the tires.

security camera footage of truck driving in mud
Truck with debris enters known illegal dumping area in Suffolk County

Plenty of catches, all of them illegal - Westchester County
On July 19, ECO Franz responded to a call regarding individuals using a gill net to catch fish in the town of Cortlandt. Officer Franz approached the anglers and observed several cast nets on shore and a gill net approximately 100 feet long installed in the water nearby. When questioned, the fishermen showed ECO Franz coolers full of more than 100 species of fish including: carp, white perch, menhaden, porgy, sunfish, and catfish. ECO Franz seized the fish and issued citations to the fishermen.

ECO vehicle with fish on ground next to it
A total of 128 illegally caught fish seized in Westchester

Net again - Suffolk County
On Aug.1, ECOs Dickson and DeRose responded to a complaint about people illegally taking fish with a cast net at Captree State Park. The officers responded, found the anglers with the net, and went through their catch. They found more than 30 snappers, sea bass, weakfish, and striped bass that were taken using the net. The ECOs issued a total of seven tickets to the anglers for the violations. From there, the officers issued at least six more tickets to two different groups who were also taking fish illegally. All tickets are returnable to Suffolk First District Court.

fish and measuring device lined up on truck bed
Fish taken with illegal cast net

fish and measuring tape lined up on ground
Snappers illegally taken with a cast net

Great Blue Heron rescue - Ulster County
On July 22, ECO Grose received a call regarding an injured great blue heron in New Paltz. Grose arrived on scene and located the bird alongside the roadway. Officer Grose captured the male bird and transported to a local wildlife rehabilitator for further evaluation.

Wawarsing ATV patrol - Ulster County
On July 24 and 25, ECOs Walraven and Johnson conducted an ATV Patrol in conjunction with the Ulster County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police (NYSP) in the Town of Wawarsing. All three agencies received numerous complaints regarding unlawful ATV activity in the vicinity of Port Ben Road and Foordmore Road. While the officers did not observe any violations during the patrol, they identified several hotspots with evidence of illegal activity that will be valuable for future patrols in the area.

ECOs and local law enforcement on ATVs
ECO's Walraven and Johnson along with members of the Ulster County Sheriff's Department and New York State Police

Checking up on dolphins - Shelter Island
On July 25, ECOs Clark and Bobseine braved high winds and rough seas to assist New York Marine Rescue in locating and assessing two dolphins near Shelter Island. A concerned boater called into a hotline reporting the two dolphins swimming in a mooring field. The dolphins were located using a patrol boat and the biologist was able to observe the dolphins and document their activity. They appeared to be in good health and swimming freely feeding on schools of baitfish in the area.

ECO on boat looking out at water in marina
ECO Clark searching for the dolphins

two dolphin fins in the water
Two dolphins swimming near Shelter Island

Rattlesnake on the loose - Ulster County
On July 27, ECO Johnson responded to a 911 radio call in the town of Wawarsing to assist the Ulster County Sheriff with a rattlesnake on residential property. The ECO arrived to find the rattlesnake had coiled itself around a small tree in the front yard. Using snake tongs, ECO Johnson was able to secure the rattlesnake in a plastic container and remove the snake from the property. As a threatened species in New York State, best efforts are made to relocate rattlesnakes to a safe location in the proximity of where they are found.

rattlesnake in pine needles on a rock
Rattlesnake found on residential property

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