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For Release: Wednesday, September 29, 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).

Hudson River Boat Patrol - Marine Waters
On Sept. 7, ECOs Johnson and Walraven conducted a boat patrol along the Hudson River for marine fishing violations. While on patrol, the Officers observed a 100-gallon propane tank floating in the middle of the river, posing a safety risk to boaters. The ECOs secured the tank and brought it ashore with assistance from West Point Military Police. Once on shore, the West Point Fire Department safely removed the tank from the property.

ECOs Johnson and Walraven continued south along the Hudson River to Piermont Pier where they observed an individual throwing a cast net from the bow of a boat. The two fishermen on the boat possessed two young striped bass caught with the cast net. Striped bass can only be legally caught by angling. The ECOs released the fish back into the water and issued the two individuals tickets for taking striped bass by illegal means and fishing without a marine fishing registration.

Propane tank floating in the Hudson River

Illegally caught striped bass

Opening Day for Bear - Ulster County
On Sept. 11, opening day of early black bear hunting season, ECO Johnson came across a hunting camp baited for bear in the town of Wawarsing. Early that morning, ECO Johnson observed one individual bowhunting in a tree-stand over a large pile of corn and a mineral block. After approaching the bowhunter, Officer Johnson spotted a second gun-hunter in another tree stand baited with corn and molasses. The Officer cited both hunters for multiple violations, including hunting black bear with the aid of bait, placing a mineral lick on land inhabited by deer/bear, and additional lesser charges. In addition, the hunters were not wearing fluorescent pink or orange, which is now required.

Bait pile discovered by ECO Johnson

All Locked Up - Orleans County
On Sept. 24, ECO Godson received a report of two large bucks with locked antlers on Gillette Road in the town of Barre, Orleans County. ECO Godson arrived at the scene and observed two large bucks with their antlers so intertwined the animals could barely move. Using a winch, catch pole, Sawzall, and a tractor for elevation, ECO Godson worked with a local farmer to remove three antlers. Eventually, both bucks were freed from one another and soon ran off into the woods unharmed.

Bucks with antlers locked

ECO Godson works to free two bucks that are stuck together at the antlers

ECO Godson and assisting farmer holding the cut antlers

Successful Youth Pheasant Hunt - Greene County
On Sept. 25, ECOs assisted the Greene County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs with the annual youth pheasant hunt in the town of Greenville. Fifteen local youth hunters participated in the annual event accompanied by their parents, mentors, and local volunteers. The young hunters received instructions on firearm safety, skeet shooting, and pheasant hunting before an afternoon barbecue. ECOs accompanied the young hunters to help ensure a fun and safe experience, and many of the participants harvested their first pheasants during the event.

Retired ECO Captain Larry DiDonato (right) prepares to brief arriving hunters

ECOs Palmateer (left) and Smith (right) stock pheasants for the youth hunt

Shot from the Road - Ulster County
A poaching case from last fall recently concluded in the Town of Wawarsing Court. The incident occurred on Dec. 7, 2020, near Ver Nooy Kill State Forest where a witness reported a vehicle stop on the road and shoot at a doe on private property. ECO Johnson responded to the scene along with the Ulster County Sheriff's Department and found the carcass of the doe. The witness provided officers with a vehicle description, and one week later, a concerned citizen reported seeing the vehicle parked at a gas station. ECOs Johnson and Walraven responded to the gas station and interviewed the vehicle owner's boyfriend, who eventually admitted to driving the car while his friend shot the deer from the vehicle. Officer Johnson interviewed the alleged shooter and determined the actual shooter was the driver's brother. Confronted with the new evidence, the driver and shooter admitted to shooting the deer from the vehicle while on the roadway. Both individuals were charged with taking deer from a motor vehicle, taking deer from a roadway, discharging a firearm over a roadway, and possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. Additional violations were added for other minor infractions. The defendants were fined more than $3,500 in town court.

United Nations General Assembly Security Detail - Marine District, NYC
ECOs recently provided security zone support in the New York City Marine District during the week-long United Nations General Assembly. Marine Enforcement Unit Acting Lieutenant Auguscinski coordinated a team of officers who worked with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Secret Service, New York City Police Department (NYPD), and others to ensure the protection of visiting dignitaries. ECOs partnered with the U.S. Secret Service to form a maritime perimeter around the United Nations building. All ECO vessel operators took a special Tactical Boat Operators Course, essential training for providing high-level security in maritime areas.

ECO Southern District marine vessels participating in United Nations General Assembly security detail

United Nations General Assembly Security Detail landing at NYC heliport

Advanced Forensic Training - Schuyler County
ECOs from DEC's Sampling Team and Environmental Forensic Unit recently attended an advanced sampling training course given by New York State's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). These specially trained ECOs perform sampling and forensic evidence collection at hazardous environmental crime scenes. As part of the training, Officers enter chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, or explosive crime scenes and collect evidence used to aid in the criminal prosecution of those who illegally dump or abandon hazardous waste. The training was conducted by DHSES' Office of Fire Prevention and Control at the fire academy in Montour Falls.

ECOs attend advanced sampling training in Schuyler County

ECOs examine barrels in a trailer for hazardous material

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