Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Environmental Conservation Police On Patrol

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Division of Law Enforcement enforces the 71 chapters of New York State's 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 2021, 282 Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responded to 26,207 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 11,562 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations. Some of these incidents result in injuries, property damage, or even death, and starting this year, 'ECO Highlights' is transitioning to a new title, 'Environmental Conservation Police On Patrol.'

"DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Investigators are on the front lines each and every day protecting our natural resources by upholding New York's environmental laws and regulations and safeguarding public health," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "From ensuring hunters and anglers follow rules and regulations afield and on the water, to sustaining partnerships with local law enforcement agencies investigating crimes that include solid waste dumping and air emissions violations, ECOs and Investigators are on patrol, ready to serve their communities. Each year brings new challenges, and fortunately, these Officers and Investigators are expertly trained to perform their duties with persistence, integrity, and good judgment, as they've done for over a century."

Striped Bass Details - Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Putnam Counties
On Feb. 12, ECOs Tompkins, Thibodeau, and Franz conducted a fishing enforcement detail in Westchester County prioritizing anglers taking out-of-season striped bass. The Officers patrolled Oscawana Island Park in the town of Cortlandt and Croton Point Park in the village of Croton-on-Hudson. During the detail, ECOs observed several anglers taking and keeping out-of-season fish. The ECOs issued 17 citations for violations including possessing out-of-season fish and fishing without a valid license. The Officers seized 30 striped bass from violators and released many of the fish back into the Hudson River. The rest of the fish were donated to a local wolf conservation center.

ECOs stand next to vehicle and a large amount of fish on the ground
ECOs Tompkins, Thibodeau, and Franz with seized out-of-season striped bass

On Feb. 21, ECOs in Orange, Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties conducted a joint detail along the Hudson River to stop illegal striped bass activity. Officers wrote a total of 16 summonses and discovered 33 out-of-season striped bass. The striped bass season runs from April 1 to Nov. 30 on the Hudson River. In 2015, New York reduced harvest due to a decline in the coastal spawning stock, resulting in a slot limit of 18 to 28 inches in length for the Hudson River. Striped bass is an ecologically, recreationally, and economically important migratory fish species in New York. The Hudson River acts as a nursery for newly hatched young bass. Striped bass seized during the detail were returned to the water or donated to the Wolf Conservancy in Westchester County.

Teamwork Stops Polluters - Suffolk County
On Feb. 15, ECOs Della Rocco and Boyes and Technical Sergeant Clark conducted a joint truck detail with the Suffolk County Sherriff's Department and New York State Department of Transportation in Southampton. The Officers monitored passing trucks looking for air quality, waste transporter, and pesticide applicator violations. ECOs used smoke meters to determine if particulate levels in the exhaust systems of vehicles were compliant with air quality requirements. They also addressed leaking petroleum-based liquids. Officers issued several summonses and even took some trucks out of service on the spot for noncompliance with New York State safety and environmental regulations.

ECOs stand with air monitor next to box truck
ECOs participate in joint truck detail in Suffolk County

Deer Rescued from Icy Waters - Suffolk County
While on patrol recently in Suffolk County, ECO Della Rocco heard a call on the radio about a deer that had fallen through the ice off Smith Point in the town of Mastic. Officer Della Rocco responded to the location with members of the Suffolk County Marine Bureau and Suffolk County Park Rangers. Utilizing ice rescue training, the ECO assisted Suffolk County Marine in rescuing the deer from the ice. Once back on shore, ECO Della Rocco and local wildlife rescue personnel revived the deer using blankets and a warm vehicle. The deer was brought to a wildlife rehabilitator for monitoring and released the next morning, alive and well.

ECO on sled moving towards deer in ice
Deer rescued from ice in Suffolk County

Another Icy Situation - Sullivan County
On Feb. 16, ECO Parker, New York State Police, and local fire departments responded to an excavator rollover in the town of Delaware. Upon arrival, ECO Parker noticed diesel fuel leaking into a nearby creek. The Officer sent photographs of the area to DEC Spill Responders who helped to coordinate a plan of action to mitigate and address the spill. ECO Parker relayed instructions to the local towing company. The company quickly righted the excavator, which stopped the spill, and DEC oversaw the cleanup of the remaining fuel with absorbents.

Large construction vehicle tipped over next to creek
Excavator overturns in town of Delaware, Sullivan County

Potential CWD Import Thwarted -Sullivan County
On Feb. 17, ECO Walraven conducted a traffic stop after observing a vehicle with a deer carcass attached to the roof. During the interview, the driver of the vehicle admitted to picking up the carcass in Pennsylvania for transport to New York City. Officer Walraven educated the driver about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and informed him it is prohibited to return with whole carcasses or intact heads of deer, elk, moose, or caribou from outside of New York State. ECO Walraven ticketed the driver, seized the carcass, and transported it to the regional DEC Bureau of Wildlife Office. CWD is an untreatable and fatal brain and nervous system disease found in deer, elk, and moose. For more information on CWD visit DEC's website.

vehicle with deer carcass on top of it
Deer on top of vehicle in Sullivan County

Fishing Tournament Incident - Sullivan County
On Feb. 20, ECOs Wood, Doroski, and Johnson were patrolling the annual "King of the Ice" fishing contest on White Lake in Sullivan County when they received a report that an ATV had broken through the ice. The Officers responded and found that the two ATV riders had already been rescued without injury. The riders inadvertently rode into open water near a bubbler, which is typically used to keep ice from forming/damaging docks and boat houses. The ECOs stayed on scene to monitor recovery of the ATV and relay information to DEC Spill Responders. No environmental impacts were reported from the incident.

ECOs stand near opening in ice where ATV fell through
ECOs on scene in Sullivan County where an ATV broke through the ice

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