Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, March 16, 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."

Spilled Yogurt - Schoharie County
On Feb. 7, ECO Burgess and Lieutenant Terrell responded to a tractor-trailer rollover, resulting in approximately 250 gallons of diesel fuel spilling onto the roadway and a ditch along Route 145 in the town of Broome. In addition, crates of yogurt on the truck spilled into Catskill Creek. Emergency personnel placed a barrier in the ditch and culvert to help stop the fuel leak and cleaned up the yogurt in the creek. Officers charged the driver and the case remains under investigation.

large truck turned over on its side on the side of a road
Overturned yogurt truck in Schoharie County

cardboard and yogurt containers strewn in a stream
Contents from overturned yogurt truck in Catskill Creek

Cold and Clammy - Queens and Kings Counties
Jamaica Bay, on the southern shore of Kings and Queens counties in New York City, was once a thriving shellfish ground during the 1800s but was closed to the recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting in 1921 because of municipal and industrial pollution. Since then, the waters of New York City, including Jamaica Bay, are considered uncertified waters and are closed to the recreational "clamming" that typically takes place in the summer months in areas that are not closed to shellfish harvest. Between Feb. 21 and March 1, ECOs Milliron, Dodge, and Veloski issued 13 tickets to 11 individuals who confronted the wintry chill on Jamaica Bay to illegally harvest clams. The Officers seized 700 razor clams and returned them to the water. Arraignment dates for the subjects are set for later this month in Queens and Kings county criminal courts.

Two ECOs picking up clams and putting them into a bucket
ECOs Milliron and Veloski count illegal hard clams and razor clams

various types of clams in a white bucket
Seized clams taken illegally from Jamaica Bay

DEC Attends Ward Melville Fishing Show - Suffolk County
On March 5, ECO Macropoulos joined employees from DEC's Division of Marine Resources at the Ward Melville Fishing Show at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket. Thousands of excited anglers attended the event and received extensive information about the State's fishing rules, fish stocking, and New York's Artificial Reef Program. In addition to answering questions from attendees, Officer Macropoulos spoke to several aspiring ECOs. While an exam date is not yet scheduled, DEC's Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) encourages interested individuals to contact their local DEC office or visit Environmental Conservation Police Officer - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation to learn more about an exciting and rewarding career as an ECO.

ECO stands at a small table with informational display behind it
ECO Macropoulos at the DEC booth at Ward Melville Fishing Show

"Public Servant of the Year" - Erie County
On March 5, Lieutenant Liza Bobseine received the "Public Servant of the Year" award from the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs at their annual banquet. State Assemblyman David DiPietro attended the special event and declared March 5 as "Lieutenant Liza Bobseine Day." Lt. Bobseine has distinguished herself throughout her decades-long career in DEC's Division of Law Enforcement. In 2016, she is credited with saving her partner's life after he was shot by a poacher in Columbia County. Bobseine quickly applied pressure to the wound while calling for support and keeping the suspects under control at the scene. She was also among a group of ECOs who traveled to Africa in 2018 to train with wildlife officers from South Africa and other neighboring counties on forensic crime techniques to better help track and catch elephant ivory poachers. DEC congratulates Lt. Bobseine on her well-deserved award.

ECOs pose for picture with award
Lt. Bobseine poses with ECO Lt. Nathan VerHague at Awards Ceremony

ECO poses for picture with large poster
Lt. Bobseine poses with Assemblyman David DiPietro who declared March 5 as "Lt. Liza Bobseine Day"

There's Something Fishy about That Meat - Orange and Rockland Counties
On March 6, ECOs in Orange and Rockland counties conducted a detail along the Hudson River to stop illicit striped bass activity. Officers issued 36 summonses for charges including fishing without a freshwater fishing license and taking striped bass out of season. In addition to the fishing violations, officers found an individual in possession of an opossum that the subject admitted to shooting in the parking lot and then cooking to eat. ECOs wrote several citations to the individual for the illegal take of the opossum. Raccoons, red and gray fox, skunk, opossum, and weasel are primarily taken for fur during their hunting seasons from Oct. 25 to Feb. 15, but are otherwise protected under New York State Environmental Conservation Law. Opossums are North America's only native marsupial, and they help with the fight against Lyme disease by eating thousands of deer ticks and reducing the number of ticks that can spread the disease. Fish seized during the detail were returned to the water to continue the spawning season.

cooked meat on grill grate over flames
Opossum found during fishing check

All for a Photo Op - Suffolk County
On March 6, ECOs DeRose and Perkins assisted New York State Park Police responding to a large gathering of cars organized over social media at Captree State Park. Some participants were driving recklessly and others parked on the fishing pier. The Officers found five vehicles parked in and around the pier, including one parked on seagrass in a tidal wetland area. Another driver attempted to drive a sedan on the beachfront where it became stuck. When the Officers asked the drivers why they were driving in an area not designated for vehicles, the subjects all gave the same answer-to take photographs. Park Police ticketed the drivers found in the area and ECOs issued additional tickets to the driver of the vehicle parked on the seagrass and the driver stuck on the beachfront for disturbing the natural state of a tidal wetland without a permit. The Environmental Conservation Law violations are returnable to Suffolk First District Court.

black vehicle stuck in the sand near a beach
Vehicle parked in the sand

Car Crash Leads to Wetland Spill - Dutchess County
On March 9, ECO Eyler heard a call over the police radio about a car driving off the Taconic State Parkway into a wetland, spilling oil. The vehicle slid off the road due to excessive speed and freshly fallen snow. The ECO directed the responding fire department to lay out oil pads to soak up automotive fluids in the water. To prevent the oil from entering nearby Wappingers Creek, Officer Eyler retrieved his hip waders, oil pads, and a floating oil boom to further contain the spill. The exact amount of fluid spilled is unknown, but a majority of it was recovered or contained to the area. The spilled materials were later cleaned up with no long-term environmental impacts.

ECO in woods near fuel spill
ECO Eyler works to contain spilled fuel

vehicle with damaged front end from crash in the woods
Vehicle left roadway and ended up in wetland

Fisher in Distress - Delaware County
On March 10, ECO Doig responded to State Route 10 in the town of Delhi after receiving reports of an injured fisher approaching humans. Lieutenant Nichols, also in the area, assisted ECO Doig in safely capturing the fisher with a catch pole. Officer Doig then contacted the DEC Wildlife Pathology lab in Delmar and explained that the animal was exhibiting unusual behavior by approaching people, which is not normal for fishers. The lab is conducting tests to identify the reason for the fisher's condition and behavior. For more information on fishers, go to DEC's website.

Night Vision Thwarts Illegal Fishing - Westchester County
On March 11 and 12, ECOs Tompkins, Wamsley, and Thibodeau conducted a large-scale striped bass enforcement effort in Westchester County, surveilling multiple areas along the Hudson River. Overnight, ECOs watched as anglers illegally caught fish out of season. Utilizing night vision, the ECOs made contact with anglers claiming they didn't have any fish. Knowing the individuals were lying, Officers located dozens of striped bass hidden in bags, under rocks, behind logs, and stuffed in exposed root systems of trees. Officers issued 27 tickets to 16 individuals throughout the night and seized 53 striped bass, returning the fish with high likelihood of survival back into the water. Deceased fish were donated to a local zoo.

Three ECOs stand with a large amound of fish lined up on the pavement
ECOs Thibodeau, Tompkins, and Wamsley with seized striped bass

Multi-agency Terror Attack Training - Erie County
On March 8 through 10, DEC's Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) in Region 9 participated in multi-agency chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cyber impact security training exercises. More than 200 participants from several agencies across the United States and Canada took part in the training, which included updates on current threats. The three-day training was designed to prepare for potential attacks on critical infrastructure in the greater Buffalo area. In all, 12 Army National Guard and two Army Reserve units, along with local, State, Federal, private sector, academic and Canadian partners participated with DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, including the New York Army National Guard, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Emergency Management, New York Power Authority, New York State Department of Transportation, and numerous other local law enforcement agencies, first responders, and private sector agencies. The training exercises were held at the Seneca One Tower in downtown Buffalo, Key Bank Center, and Highmark Stadium.

ECO controlling a small drone outside in a parking lot
ECO Mathis with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

ECOs and other emergency response sitting in an auditorium during training
Captain VerHague and Lieutenant Thomas at the Cyber Security Training

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