Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, August 31, 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 violations 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."

Illegal Take of Osprey -Suffolk County

On Aug. 3, ECO Small responded to a call from Suffolk County Police about a resident in Port Jefferson who had heard gunshots just prior to seeing a large bird fall out of a tree. After a brief investigation, Officer Small and Suffolk County Police identified and interviewed a subject who claimed he neither heard shots fired nor saw large birds in the area. While canvassing the location, ECO Small observed fresh fish lying on the ground, even though the subject's residence was not near water. She also noticed an area with freshly dug dirt and a shovel. With the subject's permission, Officer Small dug a little further and recovered a deceased osprey with visible gunshot wounds. The subject then admitted to shooting the osprey out of a tree with a 12-gauge shotgun. In New York State, osprey are listed as a "species of special concern" and are protected under State and federal law. The subject is facing criminal charges for the illegal take of protected wildlife, discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and unjustified killing of an animal. He is scheduled to answer those charges in Suffolk County First District Court.

Dead bird in the grass
Deceased osprey

dead fish on the ground
Bunker dropped by osprey

Hudson River Boating Accident Investigation - Greene County

ECOs recently concluded an investigation into a boating accident on the Hudson River in the town of Catskill. In early July 2022, ECO Palmateer received information about a boat striking a channel marker on the Hudson River in the Catskill area. The Officer and Lieutenant Glorioso set out on boat patrol, inspecting channel markers in the area for damage. The ECOs eventually located a green channel marker with white paint streaks and a missing light, indicating some sort of collision, as well as a navigation light from the bow of a boat sitting on the marker. Over the next few weeks, the investigation led ECOs to the subject responsible for striking the channel marker. The man admitted to colliding with the channel marker one night in June. After striking the marker, the subject beached the boat near Catskill Creek and got a ride from a friend to Columbia Memorial Hospital for the treatment of minor injuries caused by the accident. The subject stated he returned to the location the next morning to retrieve his boat, but it was gone. The Ulster County Sherriff's Department used sonar equipment to try to find it with negative results. On Aug. 13, a kayaker located the boat on the Hudson River just north of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and the owner retrieved it. The incident was reported to the U.S. Coast Guard and they are in the process of replacing the light on the channel marker. ECO Palmateer issued the subject a ticket for failing to report a boating accident.

boat with cracked hull on a trailer
Missing boat found following accident on Hudson River

Dented green bouy in the water
Channel marker struck by boat on Hudson River

Crash Course for Autobody Shop - Nassau County

On the afternoon of Aug. 16, ECOs Della Rocco and Pabes responded to an air quality complaint of noxious odors coming from an auto shop in Roosevelt. Upon inspection of the facility, the Officers found the shop was illegally operating a make-shift spray booth for automotive body work. Odors, invoices, and large amounts of paint stored at the facility confirmed the shop was operating without the required DEC permit, as well as the required air quality safety precautions and equipment. ECOs directed the shop owner to cease operations and issued notices of violation for the illegal operation and an unregistered waste oil tank at the facility. The Nassau County Department of Health was also notified.

large, rusty oil tank behind a fence
Unregistered waste oil tank and paint stored at autobody shop

Large Group Takes Illegal Fish - Suffolk County

On Aug. 17, ECOs Dickson and Pabes responded to the Captree Fishing Pier at Captree State Park after receiving reports of anglers using nets to catch undersized crabs and other species. As the Officers entered the parking lot, they observed a group of people placing a net and buckets into the back of a SUV. The ECOs approached and interviewed the anglers who admitted to fishing off the beach with a net. In the catch of nearly 700 fish and crabs, the Officers measured 21 blue claw crabs under the legal limit of 4.5 inches and counted more than 650 menhaden, which was over the catch limit for that species. The Officers issued tickets to the group for those violations and additional citations for undersized summer flounder (fluke) and fishing without a valid marine registry. The ECOs also informed the group that a nighttime fishing access permit is required by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to fish in the park after hours. Shortly after this incident, ECOs Dickson and Pabes encountered a second group a short distance away actively crabbing off a dock. After inspecting the group's catch, the Officers found that 20 out of the 30 crabs caught were under the legal size limit. The second group received a ticket for possession of undersized crabs.

hundred of small fish in a bucket and crate
Over-the-limit menhaden, short fluke, and undersized crab hauls

Netted at Night - Sullivan County

On Aug. 20, while patrolling the Delaware River in the town of Cochecton, ECO Parker utilized night vision equipment to spot six individuals unlawfully using cast nets. With assistance from ECO Lovgren, the Officers approached the individuals under the cover of darkness and observed them using three cast nets to catch fish. Officer Lovgren located and seized a bag filled with 17 freshwater fish, including sunfish, rock bass, and smallmouth bass. ECOs issued a total of 12 tickets for fishing without a freshwater license and taking fish by means other than angling.

green-tinted photo of men with nets
Night vison of anglers illegally netting

light shining on a bunch of illegally caught fish
Illegally caught freshwater fish

Truck Inspections - Saratoga County

On Aug. 24, ECOs Shaw, Leubner, and Doroski conducted a heavy-duty vehicle checkpoint in Gansevoort, focusing on solid waste and air quality regulations. The Officers inspected emissions systems on the trucks, checked for leaking fluids, and ensured the proper covering of applicable loads. Fortunately, ECOs only issued one warning during the detail.

ECOs standing next to a dump truck during inspection
ECOs Doroski and Shaw conducting inspection
at HDV checkpoint in Saratoga County
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