Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Environmental Conservation Police on Patrol

The 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.

"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."

Recovered and Released - Suffolk County
On April 3, ECO Boyes received a call about an injured hawk along a roadway in the hamlet of Cutchogue. The broad-winged hawk appeared to have been struck by a car and was unable to fly or see due to its injuries. Officer Boyes took the animal to the Save the Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation, a wildlife rehabilitator, where members nursed the hawk back to health. By April 12, the animal was ready to fly back into the wild. ECOs Boyes and McCabe took the hawk to a nearby field and released the bird without issue.

ECO walking towards animal crate while bird flies away
ECO Boyes setting hawk bird free

Pesticides Detail - Westchester County
On April 13, Lieutenant Dainack, and ECOs Tompkins, Swansen, and Franz, with the assistance of DEC Bureau of Pesticides staff, conducted a pesticides enforcement detail in Rye, Scarsdale, Greenburgh, and Yonkers. ECOs issued a total of 11 summonses for violations including operating an unregistered pesticide business, unlabeled pesticide service container, unlicensed pesticide applicator, and associated air quality violations. Compliance with DEC regulations helps ensure businesses operate in a safe manner. DEC maintains a compliance checklist on the agency's website.

ECO checking the label on a large green bag of pesticides
ECO Franz conducts compliance check in Rye

Litter Cleanup Initiative - Tuscarora Nation, Niagara County
On April 13, ECO Scheer assisted the Tuscarora Nation with a litter cleanup initiative along the Niagara Escarpment within the Tuscarora Reservation. The escarpment needed attention due to illegal dumping. The escapement provides beautiful views of northern Niagara County and Lake Ontario, but some have used the area for illegal dumping activities. ECO Scheer, along with numerous volunteers from the Western New York Land Conservatory, worked with Nation members to collect trash and debris along the escarpment. In total, the group collected 130 bags of trash and removed tires for proper disposal. DEC's Division of Law Enforcement maintains a close relationship with the Tuscarora Nation's Environmental Task Force, responding to calls of illegal dumping and other environmental violations by non-Nation members on the territory.

Bagged Black Bass - Nassau County
On April 13, ECOs received a report about anglers catching and keeping black bass at Hempstead Lake State Park on Long Island in violation of a State regulation allowing for the catch and release of the freshwater fish. ECO Pabes responded to the complaint and located two subjects. Neither of the anglers possessed a freshwater fishing license and both eventually admitted to catching and keeping three black bass, which Officer Pabes found in a shopping bag. The ECO issued tickets to the anglers for freshwater fishing without a license and possessing fish during the closed season, returnable to Nassau First District Court. ECO Pabes seized the three fish and donated them to a wildlife rehabilitator to feed birds of prey.

Three large fish covered in sand
Three black bass located near fishermen

Undersized Striped Bass at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve - Suffolk County
On April 15, while patrolling Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve on the North Shore of Long Island, ECOs Dickson and Kauhferr observed several headlamps along the beach. The Officers waited in the area until one of the groups fishing off the far end of the beach returned to the parking lot. The ECOs approached two of the anglers and one tried to hide a bag underneath a car. The Officers inspected the bag and found two undersized striped bass inside. The ECOs ticketed the anglers for possession of over-the-limit striped bass and possessing undersized striped bass.

two fish on the ground with a flashlight shining on them
Illegal striped bass caught at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Suffolk County

Striped Bass Detail - Nassau County
On April 16, ECOs Della Rocco, Pabes, Paschke, Perkins, Small, and DeRose, with K9 Cramer, conducted a night-time striped bass enforcement detail in Nassau County. Conditions for striped bass fishing were ideal that night with high tide scheduled for midnight, as well as a full moon. The ECOs split into teams starting at 11 p.m. and ending at 3 a.m., and set out to cover Roslyn, Manhasset Bay, and Centre Island. The Officers issued tickets in the three locations. In total, Officers seized 37 illegal striped bass amounting to 23 tickets issued for violations ranging from possession of undersized fish, over-the-limit fish, use of prohibited hooks, and failure to carry a marine registry. K9 Cramer also located two bags of illegal fish hidden by anglers. Seized fish that could not be returned to the water safely were donated to local animal rehabilitators.

Group of ECOs and a K9 ECO stand near illegally caught fish
ECOs Small, Pabes, Paschke, DeRose, K9 Cramer, Della Rocco, and Perkins with seized striped bass

Hudson River Patrol - Ulster County
On April 17, ECOs Johnson and Walraven conducted a boat patrol of the Hudson River and its tributaries for the start of the striped bass fishing season. The DLE Zodiac vessel used on the Hudson River is able to easily maneuver the shallow tributaries and shorelines.

Small gray ECO boat on the water near a red bridge
ECO Walraven piloting DLE's Zodiac vessel

Fishing Violations - Warren County
On the morning of April 15, Lieutenant Higgins and ECO Brassard patrolled a small trout pond in Queensbury and discovered several anglers catching freshly stocked trout without incident. However, some anglers also possessed out-of-season chain pickerel. In addition, two fishermen had failed to buy a fishing license, resulting in tickets to the offenders.

Later that afternoon, ECO Lapoint patrolled stocked streams in Lake George and located two anglers, one of whom exceeded the limit of trout he could legally catch and the other who did not have a valid fishing license. ECO Lapoint issued tickets to both anglers and educated the pair about daily limits and how purchasing a fishing license supports fish stocking in New York State.

Later that night, Lt. Higgins and ECO Lapoint teamed up to check on the spawning smelt in the tributaries of Lake George. It is illegal to fish for or possess smelt during the spawning period. While patrolling one of the tributaries in the town of Hague, the Officers located a truck parked next to the brook and noticed a flashlight shining on the water. The ECOs quickly apprehended the violators in possession of a net and a bucket of smelt and issued tickets for taking smelt during the closed season.

flashlight shines on a large net and a fish next to the net
Net used to dip smelt

A few small fish in the bottom of a white bucket
Smelt dipped from brook

Trappers Snare Garbage - Erie County
On April 16, ECOs Koepf and Damrath joined the Erie County Trappers Association for an early jump on Earth Day in Springville. Led by Patti Wattengel, the volunteers braved a late-season snowstorm to clean up a two-mile stretch of NY-39 and succeeded in filling about 35 garbage bags. The Adopt-a-Highway event demonstrates the environmental stewardship of New York's hunting, fishing, and trapping community.

ECOs and volunteers wearing reflective gear pose for a photo during trash pickup
ECOs Damrath and Koepf with the Trapper's Association

Spring Fling Pesticides Detail
On April 20, ECOs patrolled with members of DEC's pesticides staff in New York City. During the patrol, ECOs issued 22 tickets for improper use of pesticides.

ECOs and DEC staff take a group photo in front of an ECO vehicle
R2 ECOs (Left to Right) Parmelee, Michalet, McCarthy, Milliron, and Brussell with DEC Pesticides Staff

Earth Week Trash Cleanup - Franklin County
On April 22, in recognition of Earth Day, ECOs Okonuk and Riggs cleaned up a fishing access site on the Salmon River in the town of Constable. The Officers coordinated with town employees to remove multiple bags of garbage and waste tires. To celebrate Earth Week, ECOs participated in similar efforts statewide.

ECO actively picking up trash near fishing access site ECO in the woods picking up trash
ECOs clean up trash in Franklin County

Stranded Canoeist - Schoharie County
On April 23, ECO Bohling responded to a report of a stranded canoeist on the Schoharie Creek in Middleburg. Upon arrival, Officer Bohling was able to locate the stranded canoeist and assist New York State Fire, Schoharie County Search and Rescue, and Middleburg Fire to extract the stranded subject off an island. The canoeist from Richmondville said his canoe tipped over. He had minor injuries and was treated for exposure.

ECO and emergency team pulls a rope to bring canoeist to safety
Emergency team works to save man in Schoharie County

Disposition in Hunting Related Shooting Incident - Franklin County
A man who shot a firearm in Franklin County, sending a bullet into a house, recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid a penalty. In November 2020, ECO Okonuk received reports from New York State Police that a house on Cold Springs Road in the town of Bombay had been struck by a bullet that passed through several walls before stopping in a closet. A witness reported seeing hunters in the area on the day of the shooting, but could not identify the individuals. Officer Okonuk patrolled the area and conducted multiple interviews before a suspect was identified. The ECO questioned the accused shooter who explained that he shot at a deer and unintentionally hit the house. The hunter was arrested a few months later. After his guilty plea, the subject paid more than $5,000 in restitution to the landowner for damages to the house. ECOs will also revoke his hunting license.

exterior of house with damaged window broken wall mirror with pieces missing from it
Damaged window and mirror caused by bullet

Solid Waste Task Force Discovers Eight Illegal Dump Sites - Southern District
DEC's Southern District Solid Waste Task Force recently deployed a team of plainclothes Division of Law Enforcement Police Officers, members of the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI), and Division of Material Management (DMM) staff assigned to Regions 1, 2, and 3. Over the first two weeks of the effort, Task Force members tailed and witnessed 22 suspected tri-axle and tractor trailer tandems dump their loads of illegal fill at eight illegal dump sites throughout Westchester, Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan counties. Working closely with BECI and DMM staff, these investigations resulted in the issuance of 211 Notices of Violation to 19 trucking companies, 22 drivers, seven dirt brokers, and nine property owners.

map of lower portion of New York with red indicators where violations were documented
Locations documented as receiving illegal fill during the first two weeks of DEC's Solid Waste Task Force

ECOs stand in front of large area of flat land
Task force members in front of a portion of the 47,000 cubic yards of illegally disposed of solid waste (lighter dirt)

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