Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Wednesday, December 21, 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, 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."

Baiting Big Game - Oswego County
On Nov. 15, ECO Grogan worked with New York State Police Aviation to scout an area believed to be a bait location set up prior to the beginning of the Southern Zone deer season in the town of Granby. From the air, Officer Grogan observed several piles of corn in front of a deer stand. From the road a few days later, the ECO observed what appeared to be an individual sitting in the stand. ECO Grogan returned to the location a few hours later and interviewed the property owner. The man denied hunting Nov. 15, but said his son may have hunted. Officer Grogan asked the man to call his son. The Officer could hear the phone ringing, and someone pick up on the other end, but the father quickly hung up and claimed he got no answer. Officer Grogan asked the father to try again, but on speaker phone this time. The son answered, agreed to meet with the Officer, and after arrival admitted to hunting over bait. While checking the hunter's license, ECO Grogan learned of another antlerless deer the hunter had killed without recording a transferred Deer Management Permit (DMP) on his license, as required. Officer Grogan ticketed the subject for failing to properly accept the DMP, failure to report a harvest, intentionally feeding deer, and hunting over bait.

A "Friend's" Deer - Oswego County
On Nov. 30, ECO Wozniak received a complaint about an untagged doe in the backyard of a residence in the town of Hannibal. Officer Wozniak responded and located the untagged deer, and determined it was a spike-horn buck. The ECO also noticed evidence indicating other deer were recently on the property. The Officer interviewed the homeowner, who claimed the deer belonged to his friend, prompting ECO Wozniak to track down the friend and interview both subjects. After a lengthy back-and-forth, Officer Wozniak determined the homeowner illegally took a buck and a doe with a crossbow and then improperly tagged one deer with the friend's tag and another deer with another friend's tag. The investigation is ongoing.

Deer carcass and skull
Deer seized by ECO Wozniak during investigation

K9 Benny Sniffs Out Evidence - St. Lawrence County
On Dec. 5 and 6, ECO Schneller and his K9 partner, Benny, assisted fellow Officers with the recovery of evidence in two investigations. The pair first responded to a deer jacking complaint in the town of Hammond to assist ECO Canary. K9 Benny tracked blood and animal fur to locate the area where the deer was shot. The evidence will be used to assist in an ongoing investigation into illegal hunting.

The next day, ECO Schneller and K9 Benny assisted ECO Munn and New York State Troopers with a case involving a felon who shot and killed a deer with a rifle in the village of Gouverneur. Witnesses claimed the subject shot the deer from his front yard near other homes. K9 Benny located a spent shell casing in the yard matching the caliber of a rifle found at the residence.

DEC's Division of Law Enforcement initiated its canine program in 1978. Richard Matzell and a German shepherd named "Paws" became the division's first K9 team after completing 18 weeks of intensive training at the State Police Academy. Today, canines and their ECO partners are stationed throughout the state.

K-9 ECO sitting in a field
Environmental Conservation Police K9 Benny at investigation in St. Lawrence County

shell casing on the ground
Spent shell casing recovered by K9 Benny

Hawk Down - New York County
On Dec. 7, ECOs Milliron and Traynor received a call about a hawk trapped in the sub-basement of a building in lower Manhattan. The Officers navigated their way through dirt floor corridors of the historic New York underground and managed to trap the hawk in the rafters of a side corridor. After examining the Cooper's hawk and finding no visible injuries, the ECOs released it and the bird took off through the concrete canyon of New York City skyscrapers.

Inter-Regional Coordination Results in Seizure of Large Out-of-Season Buck - Greene County
On Dec. 7, Greene County ECO Palmateer received information about a Facebook post showing a man with a deer taken illegally. A local source indicated the man moved from the Capital Region to the town of Hope in Hamilton County. ECO Manns, working out of Fulton County, took the case and researched locations associated with the subject. Officer Manns then transferred information over to ECO Newell in Hamilton County, who, along with Lieutenant Higgins, spotted the deer hanging on a property. The Officers interviewed the subject and he admitted to shooting the deer on Dec. 6, after the season had closed. He did not have a hunting license. Officer Newell issued tickets for the illegal take of a deer out of season, a misdemeanor, as well as hunting without a license, a violation. The Officers confiscated the deer and donated it to the Venison Donation Coalition, a group helping feed families in need across New York State.

ECO holds antlers on a large, illegally taken deer
ECO Newell with illegally taken deer

Out-of-Season Turkey and Untagged Deer Brings Regions Together - Herkimer County
On Dec. 7, ECO Card received a complaint about an illegally taken turkey sitting in the trunk of a vehicle in the town of Worcester. After tracking down the vehicle and interviewing the complainant, ECO Card and Lieutenant Terrell learned the turkey had been taken the day before in the town of Warren. ECO Jakaub and Lieutenant Markey interviewed three more subjects and pieced together what happened after all statements were taken. The Officers determined the group, while driving through a farm field, observed a flock of turkeys and accelerated toward the flock. Two of the individuals shot out of the vehicle, killing one of the turkeys. The Officers issued both shooters tickets for taking protected wildlife contrary to regulations, taking a turkey out of season, possessing a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, and taking wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle. One shooter also received tickets for possessing an untagged deer, the carcass of which was also found in the trunk of the vehicle. The driver received a ticket for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. All tickets are returnable to the Town of Warren Court.

dead turkey and deer carcass parts in the back of a car
Illegally taken game in suspect's vehicle

Big Game Road Checkpoint - Fulton County
On Dec. 9, ECOs Pasciak and Kelley conducted an evening road check focused on hunting violations in an area of Northampton where illegal hunting activity was previously reported. The Officers checked seven vehicles and located a loaded firearm in one. The ECOs ticketed the individual for possession of the loaded firearm in the vehicle, which is illegal and unsafe. He now faces a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to three months of incarceration if convicted of the misdemeanor charge.

ECOs inspect firearm during checkpoint
ECOs Pasciak and Kelley document evidence of loaded firearm located during checkpoint

ECO Graduation - Onondaga County
On Dec. 9, 18 new ECOs joined the ranks of DEC's Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) after the 23rd Basic School graduation in Syracuse (leaves DEC website). The Officers endured six months of intense training at the Academy in Pulaski where they learned basic police skills, self-defense tactics, firearms handling, and emergency vehicle operation, among many other lessons. In addition, DLE handed out individual awards to recruits who scored highest in certain fields:

The Physical Fitness Awards went to ECOs Kortz of Troy and Smith of Plainview for participating in voluntary physical training over the course of the Basic School and scoring highest on physical tests.

The Outstanding Recruit Award went to ECO Zullo of Somers. The award, presented by the New York State Conservation Officers Association, is given to the recruit who displays the best qualities of an ECO, as selected by his or her peers.

The Law Enforcement Stewardship Award went to ECO Rappold of Albany, who was selected by his peers. It is presented to the Police Officer recruit who demonstrated leadership abilities above and beyond what was expected.

The Law Enforcement Academic Award went to ECO Day of Binghamton. It is presented to the ECO recruit with the highest academic grade point average.

The Law Enforcement Marksmanship Award went to ECO Giarratana of Floral Park. It is presented to the Officer recruit who finished his or her firearms training with the highest average score.

For pictures of the 23rd Basic Graduation, visit DEC's Flickr page (leaves DEC website).

Hunter Harassment and Illegal Doe - Schuyler/Steuben Counties
On Dec. 10, ECO Lifrieri and State Trooper Ciccotti continued a cooperative big game enforcement known as the Green-Gray tradition, patrolling State lands in Schuyler and Chemung counties. Following up on an earlier complaint, ECO Lifrieri ticketed a subject for hunter harassment. The alleged violator blew her horn continuously, blared her radio, screamed and cursed at a hunter, and fired off several rounds, admitting she wanted to "annoy" the hunter due to an earlier dispute. The next day, the Officers continued their joint detail, working a case in the town of Canisteo where a hunter illegally took a doe from the incorrect Wildlife Management Unit. The Officers charged the hunter with one count of illegally taking a deer, a misdemeanor, before donating the deer to a family in need.

Baited Waterfowl Field - County of Suffolk
On Dec. 10, the reopening of waterfowl season on Long Island, ECOs Cacciola and Small observed hunting decoys and husked corn cobs spread across a field. The bright yellow bait stood out to the Officers - just as it would to ducks and geese overhead. The following morning, ECOs Cacciola and DeRose returned to the field and interviewed a few area hunters. The Officers explained that manipulating corn outside of normal agricultural practices for the purpose of attracting waterfowl constitutes baiting. The Officers issued tickets to the hunting group for hunting migratory waterfowl with the aid of bait and seized two mallards from the group and reminded the hunters that even though the bait was removed, the area would still be considered baited for 10 more days after the removal. New York State DEC regulations mirror federal regulations for waterfowl baiting. Visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website (leaves DEC website) for more information about what is, and what is not, considered baiting for waterfowl.

muddy field with corn husks strewn about it
Scattering of husked corn from the hunters' blinds

ECOs Bring Christmas Cheer with NCSO "Shop with a Cop" Event - Niagara County
On Dec. 10, ECO Scheer and Lieutenant VerHague participated in the 11th annual Niagara County Sheriff's Office "Shop with a Cop" event in Lockport. The event pairs underserved and at-risk children, ages 6-10, with a Law Enforcement Officer for a shopping spree leading up to Christmas. The event is designed to give children a positive and memorable experience with Law Enforcement. Additional police agencies participating included the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, and New York State Park Police, as well as a special visit from Santa. A generous donation from the New York Conservation Officers Association made it possible for the ECOs to help make a young child's Christmas a happy one.

ECO talking to small child in the toy aisle at a store
ECO Scheer listens carefully to a young shopper as she discusses her options

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).

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - John Salka
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions