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For Release: Wednesday, December 22, 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).

Baiting Again - Steuben County
In Sept. 2021, ECO Gross received a complaint about possible baiting on a property in the town of Hornby. The ECO confirmed a history of deer baiting on the same property dating back to 2017, and the owner was ticketed. On Sept. 29, ECOs Gross and Crain observed a stand on the property baited with a mineral block and corn. On Oct. 2, ECOs Gross and Lomozik returned to the area to patrol when they noticed the suspect's vehicle parked behind them. The Officers spoke to the driver, who owns the property, and noticed a dead buck in the bed of his truck. After a brief interview, the hunter admitted to shooting the buck the previous night from the baited stand. He paid a $500 civil penalty for illegally taking a deer, hunting with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, and placing a salt lick on lands inhabited by deer. Since this was the hunter's second baiting offense within five years, he lost his hunting privileges for three years. The deer was donated to a local charity.

Suspicious Tag Leads to License Revocation - Yates County
On Nov. 11, ECO Gross visited a local deer processor to check deer that were brought in when he noticed a suspicious tag. The "Either Sex Bow/Muzzleloader" tag belonged to an elderly man and was filled out on Nov. 2. However, the tag had been purchased that same day at 7:59 p.m. ECO Gross discovered that the tag holder's son shot a buck with his bow on Oct. 24, and purchased his second round of Deer Management Permits (DMPs) at the same local shop. On Nov. 10, ECOs Gross and Dalecki interviewed the son, who admitted to shooting the buck in October and the larger nine-point buck with a bow on Nov. 2. The hunter left the deer in the woods, picked up his father, and purchased a hunting license for the father in order to obtain another tag for either sex. The ECOs determined the son shot the second deer before obtaining the proper tags. Officers charged the subject with illegally killing a deer, taking deer over the limit, failure to tag deer as required, possessing license/tags of another, and carrying un-consigned DMP tags. The hunter paid an administrative penalty of $1,000 and subsequently had his hunting privileges revoked for five years.

Commercial Vehicle Checkpoint/Hakes Landfill - Steuben County
On Nov. 17, ECOs conducted a commercial truck checkpoint at Hakes Landfill in the town of Campbell in response to several complaints about uncovered loads of solid waste scattered along the roadway leading to the town landfill. ECOs Lomozik and Lifrieri, DEC Materials Management staff, and the New York State Department of Transportation all participated in the checkpoint. They inspected several trucks and issued a total of 13 violations to drivers for traveling with uncovered loads. All tickets will be heard in the Town of Campbell Court.

Lost Hunter Located - Yates County
On Nov. 22, ECO Crain responded to a report of an 81-year-old hunter missing from his hunting party in the Italy Hill State Forest, Yates County. The group was preparing to leave the area from the West Lighting Road Parking Lot when they noticed the subject was missing. Forest Rangers Dormer, Staples, and Cordell, and three members of the Yates County Sheriff's Office also responded to assist in the search. ECO Crain advised that he would check the four-wheel drive road off Dunn Road and surrounding camps, while others spread out in the woods. Shortly thereafter, ECO Crain received a report from 911 that the subject had walked out to 1515 Italy Valley Road. The Officer responded to the address with members of the Yates County Sherriff's office and found the man in good health.

Trespasser Troubles - Chemung County
On Nov. 27, ECO Lifrieri responded to the trespass complaint in the town of Veteran. The ECO was directed to two parked vehicles along a remote road in the area. Officer Lifrieri encountered three hunters who, although cooperative, were violating critical hunting requirements. The ECO issued six summonses to the three men for trespass on posted land, failure to wear back tag while hunting, and failure to possess a New York State hunting license. In addition, one driver had a suspended driver's license, while a second driver's license was expired. Both drivers had expired inspections. All cases will be heard in Veteran Town Court.

Interstate Transportation of Deer - Chemung County
On Nov. 28, ECOs, along with New York State Police and DEC's Bureau of Wildlife, conducted a deer checkpoint in the town of Southport, near the New York-Pennsylvania border. To help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease and other diseases affecting deer, it is unlawful to transport unprocessed deer across state lines. Officers issued 10 citations during the detail, including one unlawful deer being transported into New York State from Pennsylvania, as well as several vehicle and traffic violations. All cases will be heard in Southport Town Court.

Deer Dumping Results in Arrest - Schuyler County
In early December, ECO Lifrieri received reports from a hunter about deer parts dumped on a property near his tree stand. The hunter that left the parts was not hard to find, as he had left his "Either Sex" tag on the cape of one of the deer. After further investigation, ECOs caught up with the subject and determined the hunter had failed to report two of three deer he harvested, unlawfully dumped the deer parts on the property in question, illegally dumped deer into a tributary to Cayuta Creek (a protected stream), and trespassed. The subject was charged with one misdemeanor and four violations. The hunter's case will be heard in Catharine Town Court.

Wounded Veteran Deer Hunt - Yates
On Dec. 9, DEC's Division of Law Enforcement supported the third annual Wounded Veteran Deer Hunt hosted by Wounded Warriors in Action and the Naples Veterans of Foreign Wars. The event, held in Middlesex, was planned in part by ECO Captain Ver Hague, an active member of the New York Army National Guard, and Lieutenant Fay, a retired National Guard member. The New York Conservation Officers Association generously donated several tokens of appreciation and covered the cost of the non-resident hunting licenses and Deer Management Permit application fee for three Purple Heart recipients. Two does and one buck were harvested during the event. Lt. Fay attended the closing ceremony and dinner on Dec. 12.

ECO poses for photo with Veterans during deer hunt
Wounded Veteran Deer Hunt in Middlesex

Fill in Waters - Orange County
On Dec. 13, ECOs Schuck and Lovgren received a call about a potential violation related to an unlawful bridge built over a protected stream. The ECOs responded and worked with the town of Monroe building code enforcement office to meet the bridge owner. The owner met with ECOs to review the proper permits needed to continue work in the protected stream. DEC issued two citations to the owner of the construction company for placing fill in a navigable water of New York State and disturbing or modifying any stream without obtaining a permit to build an impoundment. The construction or replacement of a bridge must be done in accordance with DEC regulations to ensure habitat is protected.

ECO standing on edge of large rocks inspecting illegal bridge over stream
ECO Lovgren investigating construction of an unlawful bridge in a protected stream

Know Your Target and Beyond - Ulster County
On Dec. 13, ECO Walraven received a complaint of a possible Hunting Related Shooting Incident in the town of Wawarsing, Ulster County. The concerned complainant noticed a crossbow bolt sticking out of her metal roofing and suspected it came from a hunter. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries. ECO Walraven canvassed the area for evidence, identified a suspect, and made an arrest. The suspect is facing misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment in the 2nd degree and discharging a crossbow within 250 feet of a dwelling, as well as a violation for failing to report deer harvest as required. He was processed at the New York State Police Ellenville Barracks and released on his own recognizance.

roof of house with arrow sticking out of it
Crossbow arrow sticking out of metal roofing

Young Angler Honored - Niagara County
After learning of Harry Hazlett's struggle with bone cancer and his passion for fishing, ECO Kevin Holzle reached out to DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife to spearhead the creation of a new Exceptional Angler award. In collaboration with Charter Captain Ned Librock of Catching Dreams charters-a not-for-profit organization in Western New York that provides chartered fishing tours to young cancer patients including Harry-ECO Holzle reached out to Harry's family and arranged a surprise award presentation.

On Dec. 15, ECO Holzle hand delivered the "Exceptional Angler" award to Harry at his home in Niagara County, along with over $100 worth of lures, tackle, and other items donated by the New York Conservation Officers Association. DEC Fisheries' Aquatic Biologist Michael Todd and Charter Captain Ned Librock also attended and helped present the award. ECO Holzle's compassion and extra effort were appreciated by Harry and his family and created a memorable moment that inspired everyone involved.

Child holding Exceptional Angler Award ECO and child with Exceptional Angler Award
ECO Holzle presents Harry Hazlett with the Exceptional Angler Award

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