Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, November 23, 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."

Invasive Species Seized - Kings County
On Sept. 28, while on patrol in Brooklyn, ECO Currey observed several businesses offering Chinese mitten crabs and Asian date mussels, highly invasive species, for sale on the street. Officer Currey seized a total of 180 of the crabs and 100 prepackaged bags of mussels and issued multiple administrative Notices of Violation for illegal commercialization of wildlife and two criminal tickets for the sale of shellfish from non-Food and Drug Administration-approved countries. All invasive species were seized and destroyed to prevent potential spread of these invasive pests in New York waterways.

ECO stands a back of truck filled with dozens of bags of crabs and mussels
ECO Currey with seized invasive species in Kings County

Illegal Doe Take - Essex County
On Oct. 22, the opening of the Northern Zone big game hunting season, ECOs Dewey and Nicols patrolled the Lyme Adirondack Timber Property in Queensbury, home to numerous hunting clubs. As the Officers approached a clubhouse to greet hunters, they observed three men butchering a doe with a battery-operated reciprocating saw. During their investigation, the ECOs determined the untagged deer had been shot on the wrong property. The Officers issued tickets for illegal take of deer, possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, and failure to tag as required.

White cooler with butchered deer parts inside
Illegally taken doe butchered in Essex County

Too Early - Ulster County
On Oct. 28, ECO Johnson responded to a residence in the town of Rochester after receiving reports of multiple deer taken with the aid of bait. The subject admitted to shooting the deer behind his property and claimed the large trough of corn and horse feed in his backyard was intended for birds. A photo of the deer on the hunter's phone indicated he shot the deer on Sept. 10, well before archery season. Officer Johnson issued multiple tickets to the hunter, including the take of big game out of season, hunting with the aid of bait, failure to tag deer, and failure to report deer harvest. All tickets are returnable to the Town of Rochester Court.

Corn in a feeding trough in the woods
Trough full of corn and feed in Ulster County

Poaching Striped Bass - Queens County
On Oct. 29, ECOs received a complaint about a group of anglers poaching striped bass and placing the fish at a dock in Howard Beach. However, by the time the Officers received the information, the fishermen already had left the area. The next day, ECOs Milliron and Michalet patrolled Jamaica Bay with members of the U.S. Coast Guard when they received a report that the same boat was out on the water. The ECOs returned to shore and split up to search for the boat. While driving over Cross Bay Bridge, ECO Michalet spotted the boat described in the complaint, notified Officer Milliron, and headed back to the dock. The Officers confronted the anglers, discovered 16 illegal striped bass, and issued 23 tickets to five individuals for possession of over-the-limit striped bass, possession of undersized and oversized striped bass, no Marine Registry, and failure to release fish without undue harm.

ECO lines up large fish on a dock to measure them for size
ECO Michalet preparing to measure illegal fish in Queens County

Tossed and Tucked Tautog - Nassau County
On Nov. 1, while checking anglers fishing for tautog (blackfish) along the Wantagh Parkway bridges in the town of Hempstead, ECO Pabes noticed one angler talking on his phone to another angler using binoculars on the opposite side of the bridge. After the phone call ended, one of the anglers retrieved a bag from his belongings and dumped three blackfish back into the water. Officer Pabes approached the fisherman, who claimed he had not caught any fish. While speaking to the subject, Officer Pabes noticed a large bulge under the angler's sweater. The ECO requested the subject untuck his sweater and two undersized blackfish fell to the ground. The Officer issued three tickets to the angler, all returnable to Nassau First District Court, for possession of undersized fish, failure to release fish without undue harm, and no Marine Registry.

dead fish in water bewteen two rocks
Undersized blackfish dumped between rocks

Trapped - Cattaraugus County
On Nov. 2, ECO Powers received word from a landowner in the town of Allegany that two raccoons were caught in foot-hold traps on his property. In addition, the landowner reported he'd found a tree stand and trail camera set up in the area that he did not want on his property, but first he wanted assistance to free the trapped raccoons. Officer Powers responded to the area and began searching with only about an hour of daylight remaining. The ECO eventually located the animals and removed the traps. Both raccoons were freed without incident. ECOs are investigating to determine who is hunting/trapping on the landowner's property without permission.

raccoon released from trap in woods
First raccoon freed from foot trap by ECO Powers

Almost Made It - Suffolk County
On Nov. 5, while monitoring his Suffolk County Police radio, ECO DeRose heard reports of a twin-engine plane crash in North Babylon. Officer DeRose joined other first responders to find the small passenger plane crashed in a local cemetery. Fortunately, the two passengers inside walked away from the wreckage with only minor injuries. ECO DeRose did not observe a fuel spill related to the crash. The plane had run out of fuel less than a mile from its destination airport.

small red and white plane after crash
Wreckage from small plane crash in Suffolk County

Illegal Deer Take - Sullivan County
On Nov. 7, ECOs Wood and Doroski responded to a complaint about someone shooting a deer from an ATV in the town of Thompson. During the investigation, the Officers located several pools of fresh blood and a crossbow bolt where the deer was taken. The ECOs also received information from the complainant leading to the location where the deer was moved after being shot. At that location, ECO Wood located a fresh gut pile and the subject who shot the deer. The hunter admitted to shooting the 10-point buck with a crossbow while trespassing on property. The crossbow used to shoot the deer is illegal because it does not meet specifications for crossbow hunting in New York. The Officers confiscated the deer and ticketed the hunter for the illegal take of deer, trespassing, and using a crossbow not lawful for hunting.

Dead deer with antlers on a brown tarp
Deer illegally taken by crossbow in Sullivan County

crossbow on back of black truck
Crossbow used to take deer in town of Thompson

Undersized and Over the Limit - Richmond County
On Nov. 12, ECOs Veloski and Currey joined U.S. Park Police to patrol a popular fishing area in Staten Island. During the patrol, the ECOs observed anglers placing undersized tautog (blackfish) into shopping bags and then hiding the bags under logs, in the sand, and in weeds nearby. The Officers approached the group, questioned the anglers, and discovered a total of 16 blackfish hidden in the area. After determining who caught the fish, the ECOs issued 14 tickets to the subjects for possession of undersized blackfish, possession of over-the-limit blackfish, failure to release without undo harm, and unlawful disposal of solid waste. The anglers are scheduled to appear in Richmond County Court at the end of November.

ECOs and US Park police stand at the back of a pick-up truck during patrol
ECOs and U.S. Park Police on patrol for Staten Island anglers

To contact an ECO to report an environmental crime or to report an incident, call 1-844-DEC-ECOS for 24-hour dispatch or email (for non-urgent violations).

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