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For Release: Wednesday, October 27, 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).

2021 Youth Pheasant Hunts - Multiple Counties
This fall, a series of youth hunts across New York State gave aspiring hunters the chance to get hands-on experience in the field. On Oct. 10, ECOs assisted with a youth pheasant hunt hosted by Pheasants on the Flats in Batavia. This hunt gave youth hunters the opportunity to be afield with experienced hunters and dog handlers. ECOs educated participants about upland game bird hunting tactics and safe firearm handling. Each of the young hunters successfully harvested at least one pheasant.

In Jefferson County, ECOs hosted the 12th annual Youth Waterfowl and Pheasant Hunt. This was the first year that hunters ages 12 to 15 could hunt for both waterfowl and pheasant. Before heading out, youth practiced the rules and regulations of hunting, calls and calling, waterfowl identification, and working with a dog for pheasant hunting. Each of the youth hunters successfully took their daily limit of two pheasants. The hunt was hosted by the Sackets Harbor Sportsman's Club and made possible by donations from the New York Conservation Officers Association, as well as the local chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation.

In Lewis County, ECOs Kraeger and Jarecki assisted at the 15th anniversary of the Pat Arnold Youth Pheasant Hunt. Nine youth hunters ages 12 to 15 participated in the hunt and all were successful in harvesting their daily limit of two birds. ECOs assisted with skeet shooting, shared safe firearm handling techniques, and accompanied the youth on their hunts.

Youth hunters and ECOs pose with their hunting prizes
Successful youth hunters in Genesee County

Youth hunter and ECOs post for photo in front of ECO Truck
Jefferson County Youth Waterfowl and Pheasant Hunt

ECOs and Youth Hunters pose for photo during youth hunting event
Pat Arnold Youth Pheasant Hunt participants

Porcupine Rescue - Sullivan County
On Oct. 12, ECO Eyler received reports of a sick and injured porcupine in a resident's backyard. When the ECO arrived, he noticed the animal was alive but barely able to move. With the assistance of an animal rehabilitator from the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, Officer Eyler carefully lifted the female porcupine into a container before transporting it to the zoo. The porcupine will remain at the facility until its release back into the wild.

ECO holding large porcupine at an animal clinic at the zoo
Officer Eyler, wearing protective gloves, handling an injured female porcupine at Trevor Zoo

Meth-Dump Detail - Chemung/Schuyler/Steuben Counties
On Oct. 13, ECO Lifrieri joined other law enforcement agencies in a methamphetamine (meth)-dump detail across several counties. Illegal meth-making materials unlawfully dumped outdoors can pose a tremendous risk to the public, wildlife, and the environment. Unsuspecting individuals or animals that come across the material can be severely injured or even killed. The detail focused on Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben counties and Officers also checked Seneca and Tioga counties. Involved law enforcement agencies included DEC ECOs, Forest Rangers, and Investigators, New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Chemung County Sherriff's Office, Elmira Heights Police Department, Horseheads Police Department, and the West Elmira Police Department. During the detail, Officers located material at the Coon Hollow State Forest in Schuyler County, including a hydrogen chloride (HCI) gas generator, which is used as a reactionary chamber to produce HCI. A State Police hazmat team safely removed the materials. The investigation is ongoing.

Vehicle Dismantler Fail - Dutchess County
On Oct. 13, ECO Eyler and DEC's Division of Materials Management concluded a month-long investigation of a Vehicle Dismantler Facility (VDF) in Dutchess County. While inspecting the facility, which had been operating without a DEC registration, the team discovered numerous violations, including automotive fluid drained on the ground and uncovered car batteries. The facility received 13 violations. VDFs in New York State have strict guidelines when it comes to operating procedures and are highly regulated to ensure materials like transmission fluid, used motor oil, gasoline, and mercury are not released into the environment. The company was issued a Notice of Violation and DEC is requiring the facility to come into compliance.

absorbent material on motor oil spill

ECO vehicle on dirt road at spill site
Motor oil haphazardly spilled on the property

Fish Detail Finds Violators - Lake Ontario
On Oct. 21, Region 8 ECOs participated in a detail on Lake Ontario targeting the unlawful taking of fish during their spawning runs. Officers patrolled tributaries from Orleans to Wayne County in search of illegal activity. ECOs Baker and Muchow, assigned to eastern Monroe County, which includes the city of Rochester, observed four individuals carrying what appeared to be large garbage bags full of fish. The ECOs quickly intercepted the anglers to inspect their catch. Officers found one angler in possession of 40 salmon, five steelhead, and seven walleye, packed into totes in the corner of his van. The remaining anglers were found with 10 salmon in a cart. ECOs issued five tickets to the group returnable to the City of Rochester Court. Charges include illegal commercialization of fish, taking over the limit of salmon, taking undersized walleye, and fishing without a license.

ECOs stand with a slew of illegally taken fish
Illegal fish taken during Lake Ontario detail

"Careers on Wheels"- St. Lawrence County
On Oct. 22, ECO Ryan attending the "Careers on Wheels" event at Potsdam Elementary School where multiple emergency service agencies, including DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, spoke briefly about their jobs to Pre-K through fourth-grade students. Officer Ryan explained how he became an ECO and the work that goes into enforcing environmental laws to ensure the protection of natural resources and the public. The students asked many questions and offered some stories of their own about interactions with ECOs. The event was such a success that the Potsdam Central School District plans to hold it again next year.

ECO speaking to a group of people
ECO Ryan fields questions from Potsdam Central School students at "Careers on Wheels"

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