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For Release: Wednesday, October 13, 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).

Hazardous Material Spill- Ulster County
In the early morning hours of Sept. 22, ECO Walraven responded to a call from Ulster County 911 regarding a hazardous material spill on Interstate 87 in the town of Plattekill. During transit, a tractor trailer spontaneously combusted, resulting in flames and chemicals spilling out of the back. Remarkably, the driver was not injured. Local fire and hazmat crews responded and gained control of the fire and responders immediately assessed the potential that the chemical contents of the truck, consisting of five-gallon cans of paint thinners and paint, could enter the Quassaick Creek and flow into Chadwick Lake, a local drinking water source. ECO Walraven conducted an inspection of the creek and a nearby wetland and did not see any evidence indicating that the spilled contents entered the waters. DEC Spill Responders also arrived on scene to investigate and ensure the cleanup of the site was protective of public health and the environment. The owner of the truck hired an environmental clean-up contractor to address the remaining wreckage under DEC oversight.

Trailer in flames on the highway
Truck trailer in flames on I-87

Women's Fishing Expo - Suffolk County
On Sept. 25, DEC's I FISH NY Program held its second annual Women's Fishing Expo at Connetquot River State Park. The event, run primarily by female anglers and fisheries professionals, included demonstrations by women-owned businesses and fishing clubs. Participants learned basic and intermediate fishing skills such as knot-tying and fly-fishing. Trout hatchery tours were also available. ECOs Small and Grady were on hand to help with the fishing demonstrations and answer questions from the public about what ECOs do and why their work is important in the preservation and protection of our natural resources.

Two ECOs at an informational booth
ECOs Small and Grady at Women's Fishing Expo (Photo credit: NYS Parks)

Honoring Our Roots - Suffolk County
On Sept. 29, ECO DeRose and K9 Cramer visited Pine Lawn National Cemetery to pay their respects to Game Protector (GP) William Cramer. K9 Cramer was named in honor of GP Cramer, who was murdered on Sept. 29, 1929, while he and GP Joseph Allen investigated illegal hunting in the Idlewild Woods, an area near present-day JFK Airport. The two GPs discovered a poacher in possession of protected songbirds, and while arresting the poacher, they heard a gunshot and went to investigate. The poacher in custody shouted a warning to a second poacher, resulting in an exchange of gunfire. Cramer was killed instantly by a shotgun blast. A lifelong resident of Queens, he was 38 years old when he died. His devotion as a Game Protector made him an Officer of the highest caliber. William Cramer is still recognized as one of the most courageous and fearless men ever to wear the Game Protector badge.

K9 Cramer sitting next to ECO Cramer's headstone
K9 Cramer at the grave of his namesake

Shadow of ECO and K9 reflected onto ECO Cramer's headstone
K9 Cramer's handler, ECO DeRose salutes Game Warden William Cramer

DLE Participation in Flood Response Strike Team Training - Oneida County
During the last week of September, DEC Division of Law Enforcement members participated in a four-day training for students and instructors at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany as part of New York's interagency flood response strike team. The strike team is led by the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) and brings together a wide range of State public safety groups including ECOs and Forest Rangers to provide a more coordinated and efficient public safety response to flooding. The strike team has responded to floods generated by tropical storms Fred, Ida, and Henri in recent weeks.

The training involved classroom and live training at the Training Center in controlled environments, including mock scenarios, land-based search techniques, building entry, second floor and rooftop evacuations, pet rescues, and integrating UAS (drones) into flood response. The training culminated with a full-day exercise with the Barneveld Volunteer Fire Company on West Canada Creek. The exercise combined teams from all involved agencies to effectuate a multi-victim rescue that tested skills practiced earlier in the week. This type of training is critical to ensure effective multi-agency responses to flooding events that continue to increase across the state.

Training team in creek
Multi-agency team prepares to remove "victim" from West Canada Creek

Rescue boats working in "flood village"

Person climbing ladder to second floor window
Lt. Higgins climbs second floor window to rescue "flood victims"

Black Sea Bass Sunday - Suffolk County
On the last Sunday in September, ECOs Perkins and DeRose worked a long day to prevent the unlawful taking of black sea bass on the South Shore of Suffolk County. Black sea bass have a minimum size limit of 15 inches and a maximum daily possession limit of seven fish from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31. After receiving a complaint from a local fisherman that anglers were taking undersized black sea bass on the rocks at Democrat Point, ECO Perkins responded to the area and located the individuals. Upon inspection, Officer Perkins discovered two undersized black sea bass in a cooler. He issued a ticket for possession of undersized fish.

As the day progressed, ECOs Perkins and DeRose patrolled Captree State Park to perform recreational saltwater fishing compliance checks on the main pier. ECO DeRose performed a compliance check on a fisherman with an out-of-season tautog, while ECO Perkins located a fisherman further down the dock with five undersized black sea bass, three of which were hidden on a stringer in the water. The Officers issued tickets to both anglers for their violations. The ECOs also patrolled Ocean Parkway, conducting compliance checks on anglers located on the bay side at Oak Beach. The ECOs encountered two fishermen in possession of undersized black sea bass measuring nine inches each. Both anglers received tickets for their violations.

It was a similar scene at Robert Moses State Park where both officers spotted three fishermen on the rocks. ECO DeRose watched the pair and observed one angler catch an undersized black sea bass and quickly place it in a plastic bag he then stuffed in the rocks approximately 15 feet away. Upon inspection, the Officers located another plastic bag nearby. Both bags contained 28 undersized black sea bass, all less than seven inches. Two of the three fishermen admitted to possessing the black sea bass. All three fishermen were ticketed for possession of undersized black sea bass, over limit, and failure to carry a marine registry. Twelve tickets were issued and a total of 37 undersized black sea bass and one tautog seized.

undersized black sea bass laid out on truck bed
16 undersized black sea bass

Repeat Offender - Suffolk County
On the Oct. 1, opening day of archery season for deer in Brookhaven, Suffolk County, ECO Grady checked a wooded area known for baiting. Officer Grady located a hunter with some minor license violations, issued tickets for these violations, and sent the hunter on his way. One week later, ECO Grady returned to the area and found a different hunter in a tree stand, hunting 10 yards from a pile of bait. The hunter, ticketed by Officer Grady in the past for baiting and hunting with a crossbow, received more tickets for hunting with the aid of bait and failure to wear a back tag. Officer Grady seized the hunter's trail camera and compound bow while charges are pending.

Night Clamming - Suffolk County
On Oct. 8, ECO Grady received a call from Town of Brookhaven Public Safety Officers who intercepted two male subjects with shellfish near Mount Sinai Harbor. The subjects snuck out of the woods with buckets at about 8:30 p.m., and were waiting to be picked up when spotted by the Officers. As ECO Grady approached, one of the subjects fled. She found clam rakes and several buckets of hard clams in a wooded area near the harbor, which is seasonably uncertified for shellfish because the shellfish are unsafe for human consumption. It is also unlawful to take shellfish at night, after sunset. The subject in custody received tickets for taking shellfish from an uncertified area, possessing a commercial quantity of shellfish at night, and not having a shellfish digger permit. All charges are misdemeanors pending in Suffolk County First District Court.

Violations Continue Around Fire Island Inlet - Suffolk County
ECOs Dickson and Perkins continue to find anglers keeping tautog before the season and black sea bass of less than legal size. On Oct. 8, while patrolling Captree and Robert Moses State Parks, the Officers issued tickets to multiple fishermen for taking out-of-season tautog, undersized and over-limit sea bass, and winter flounder out of season. On the night of Oct. 9, ECOs Perkins and Anderson found people illegally taking fish with a net in the dark at Jones Beach State Park. They ticketed two separate groups of four anglers for taking a total of 89 undersized sea bass, which put them more than 30 fish over the limit. The second group had an undersized striped bass, as well.

St. Lawrence County Youth Hunt
ECOs in St. Lawrence County recently partnered with the Borderline Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and DEC wildlife staff to offer youth 12 to 15 years old an opportunity to hunt waterfowl and pheasants at the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area. Sixteen youths participated at this year's events and many successfully harvested ducks and pheasants. Youth waterfowl and pheasant hunts are free to participants due to the generosity and donations from the New York State Conservation Officers Association (NYCOA), St. Lawrence County Sportsmen Federation, Potsdam and Massena Elks Club, Wal-Mart, Runnings, and Tractor Supply. Volunteer mentors included Michael Morgan, Tom Smith, Jason Murray, Mark Finely, Brady Helmer, Joseph Siematkowski, and Jackson Cowser. This year's outing was a great success with many of the youth hunters successfully taking birds and beginning what will hopefully be a lifelong pastime.

15th Anniversary of Pat Arnold Youth Pheasant Hunt - Lewis County
ECOs Kraeger and Jarecki recently assisted with the Pat Arnold Annual Youth Pheasant Hunt, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary. A total of nine youth hunters ranging from 12 to 15 years old participated in the hunt and all were successful in harvesting their daily limit of two birds. The Officers assisted participants with skeet shooting and safe firearm handling techniques.

12th Annual Jefferson County Fall Youth Hunt - Jefferson County
ECOs from Jefferson County took five youth hunters afield as part of the 12th Annual Jefferson County Youth Fall Hunt. Hosted by the Sackets Harbor Sportsman's Club, the hunt was successful thanks to donations from NYCOA and the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. As in years past, the event consisted of an educational day and a hunting day. New this year was an additional hunt day for pheasants, hunting strategies and decoy use, calls and calling, waterfowl identification, working with a dog for pheasant hunting, and marksmanship instruction on the range. The young hunters achieved success, getting multiple opportunities to harvest birds and pheasants and learned a lot about hunting safety.

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