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For Release: Wednesday, September 15, 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).

Rain-Soaked Owl Rescue - Dutchess County
On Aug. 23, ECO Wamsley received a call about an owl in distress in the town of Dover. Upon arrival, the ECO found the great horned owl stranded in a field and getting drenched by rain from Tropical Depression Ida. ECO Wamsley grabbed his net and approached the bird. The owl could not fly due to an injured wing and had recently been sprayed by a skunk. It was quickly captured and transported to a local rehabilitation facility for treatment.

ECO holding the injured owl
ECO Wamsley with injured great horned owl

Thunderbird Air Show ATV Detail - Orange County
On Aug. 28 and 29, the Orange County Airport in Montgomery hosted the 2021 New York International Airshow featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Orange County-based ECOs patrolled the airport grounds on ATVs to provide crowd and traffic control and security. The Officers worked in coordination with New York State Police Troop F, Orange County Sherriff's Office, town and village of Montgomery Police, Town of Wallkill Police, and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Setting the stage for the Thunderbirds this year were the West Point Parachute Team, B-25 Bomber "Panchito," and an F-18 Rhino.

an ATV sitting in a field as the U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds fly overhead
ECOs patrolling airport perimeter on ATVs during Thunderbird Air Show

Tropical Storm Ida Flooding Response Search and Rescue Operations
On Sept. 1, ECOs, Forest Rangers, and State Park Police Officers deployed to Westchester and Rockland counties as part of the State's Flood Incident Support Team (FIST) to assist with Tropical Depression Ida. These teams rescued families and individuals from flooding conditions in Westchester and Rockland counties. ECOs also assisted the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Emergency Services Unit with search and rescue and evacuation missions in Staten Island.

People standing next to and sitting on motorboat in flood waters
ECO/State Park Police team prepare to enter flooding conditions for search and rescue missions in Rockland County

People in road assisting with the flood on Staten Island
ECOs assist NYPD Emergency Services Unit with Staten Island search and rescue and evacuation missions

Raptor Rescue - Ulster County
On Sept. 5, ECO Chomicki received a call from the Ulster County Sheriff for a report of an injured bald eagle in the town of Marbletown. The ECO spoke to the caller who decided to stay with the bird, covering the animal to keep it safe from predators until help arrived. ECO Chomicki did a quick check of the bird and identified it as a hawk. Seeing no obvious injury, the ECO collected the hawk and transported it to a volunteer with Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for proper evaluation and rehabilitation.

Injured hawk sitting on the ground
Injured hawk before transport to rehabilitation facility

Saved by an Owl - Sullivan County
On Sept. 6, National Park Service (NPS) Ranger Babus contacted ECO Parker to collect an injured great horned owl rescued from the Delaware River. ECO Parker met NPS Ranger Babus and NPS Ranger Bunn at a halfway point at the Ten Mile River Delaware access point. After collecting the owl, ECO Parker and Ranger Babus heard an individual screaming for help in the middle of the Delaware River at the Ten Mile River junction. Officers noted that a kayaker had flipped their kayak and was struggling in the current. Ranger Bunn responded with a canoe to rescue the boater while Ranger Babus and ECO Parker stood ready with a throw rope. Ranger Bunn escorted the boater back to shore where the subject was assisted by Ranger Babus and ECO Parker. The subject did not require medical attention. After assisting the boater, ECO Parker brought the owl to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for further care.

Owl standing in an open container
Rescued great horned owl

September 11th Anniversary Day of Remembrance Parade and Candlelight Vigil - Columbia County
On Sept. 11, first responders and community members from Columbia County gathered to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and remember those tragically lost during the terrorist attacks. The memorial event, organized by leaders in the town of Kinderhook, was held in Volunteers Park. ECO Cox, currently assigned to Columbia County, served several years in New York City at the beginning of his career. In 2001, the ECO was on patrol in Manhattan when the first plane struck the north tower. ECO Cox did not hesitate to respond, quickly mobilizing with other first responders to evacuate people from lower Manhattan.

The Officer recalled the emotions of that day as he spoke to the crowd of more than 500 Kinderhook community members. ECO Cox was joined by another speaker who survived working on the 72nd floor of the north tower that morning, and a retired Port Authority of NY/NJ Police Chief. Their stories truly brought home the message "All Gave Some, Some Gave All - Never Forget."

State DEC Police car in lower Manhatten on Sept. 11, 2001
ECO Jeff Cox on Sept. 11, 2001 working in lower Manhattan

Officers holding U.S. and NY State flags, leading the 9/11 Remembrance parade
ECO Cox leading the 9/11 Remembrance Parade with members of State Police and Columbia County Sheriff's Office

ECO Cox standing and speaking at a podium
ECO Cox recounting the World Trade Center attacks

September 11th Anniversary Step Challenge - Niagara County
In Niagara County, ECOs Holzle and Koepf joined approximately 250 other first responders in a step challenge to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Responders walked down the Whirlpool State Park steps along the Niagara River Gorge and then up the Devil's Hole State Park steps. These steps are equivalent to the 110 stories heroic first responders climbed on that fateful day.

Two people standing below the American flag

ECOs Koepf and Holzle at the Step Challenge

ECOs Participate in September 11th Security Detail - New York City
On Sept. 11, ECOs participated in a joint agency marine detail to provide security to the waters around New York City during the 20th anniversary ceremonies remembering the September 11, 2021, terrorist attacks.

ECOs on a boat with Manhattan in the background
ECOs help secure waters around Manhattan

Late-Night Poachers - Suffolk County
On Sept. 12, ECOs Boyes, Clark, and McCabe split up to patrol popular fishing areas in the town of Southampton during the late night and predawn hours. During their patrols the Officers encountered a few violators. In one case, the ECOs approached two individuals transporting three undersized fluke and five undersized striped bass to a vehicle from the top of a bridge. Later, three other individuals were found in possession of 53 shad despite the daily limit of five. The patrol next found four anglers with undersized crabs and an additional group of three subjects with 24 undersized black sea bass.

ECOs issued a total of 13 tickets for possession of undersized fluke, possession of undersized striped bass, over-limit striped bass possession, over-limit shad possession, possession of undersized black sea bass, over-limit black sea bass possession, and possession of undersized blue crabs.

Seized Fish

Seized Fish
Fish seized during Suffolk County patrol

Juvenile Alligator Caught on Middle School Property - Dutchess County
On Sept. 14, at approximately 1:19 am, ECO Eyler received a call from the East Fishkill Police Department reporting a four- to five-foot alligator roaming around the Van Wyck Junior High School. A next door neighbor, who just happened to look out her living room window, saw the 50-pound animal scurrying from a culvert and into the parking lot of the nearby school and immediately called 911. ECO Eyler arrived on scene and safely subdued the animal to transport it to an area animal rehabilitation specialist for evaluation.

ECO holding the juvenile alligator
ECO Eyler with alligator found on school grounds

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