Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Thursday, January 5, 2023

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."

NECLCA 'Officer of the Year' Awarded to Lieutenant Mark Malone
Recently, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) Lieutenant Mark Malone received the 'Officer of the Year' award from the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association (NECLCA) (leaves DEC website). The annual award honors Officers for exemplary work protecting communities and natural resources by enforcing New York's stringent Environmental Conservation Laws. NECLCA is a professional organization comprised of the Chiefs and senior command staff from 13 northeastern states, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Officer for Law Enforcement, and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The organization encourages and promotes better law enforcement cooperation among member states, exchanges views and techniques, and discusses problems relative to fish and wildlife law enforcement.

Investigator Mark Malone is a 20-year veteran of DLE. He earned associate degrees in Natural Resource Conservation and Criminal Justice from Finger Lakes Community College and prior to joining DEC, worked as a New York State University Police Officer at Canton. Investigator Malone now serves as a member of DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) Unit where he conducts numerous criminal investigations that have led to successful prosecutions in hunting violations, the illegal discharge of wastewater into the Raquette River, and the falsification of business records to conceal that crime. He's also worked cases involving the transportation of an illegally taken elk from Colorado to New York and disposal of methamphetamine lab waste into the Black River. As a member of the Division's Crime Scene Investigation Chemical Sampling Team and Environmental Forensic Unit, Investigator Malone has also been integral in securing both chemical and hazardous forensic evidence at environmental crime scenes for use in criminal prosecutions and high-profile administrative cases. A resident of Jefferson County, he enjoys camping and boating with his family and hunting, fishing, and trapping in his spare time.

"Investigator Malone is a shining example of the dedication and personal responsibility many of our Officers feel about protecting natural resources and the public," Commissioner Seggos said. "I applaud him for receiving this well-deserved award and am confident he will continue to address environmental crimes in New York, helping bring polluters and bad actors to justice."

DLE Director Karen Przyklek said, "It is with great honor and enthusiasm that I presented the NECLECA officer of the Year Award to Investigator Mark Malone. Mark's knowledge and steadfast enthusiasm are an enormous asset to both our Sampling Team and Forensic Units. His professional demeanor and tireless zeal to help are much appreciated by me and the members of the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation. We are very fortunate to have an Investigator of Mark's caliber within our division's ranks, and I wholeheartedly support his receipt of this prestigious award."

Group photo of ECOs during award ceremony
(From L-R) Region 6 DLE Captain Barber, Director of Law Enforcement Przyklek, Investigator Malone, BECI Lieutenant D'Angelo, and Assistant Director of Law Enforcement Col. Boylan

Don't Lie to the Guys in Green - Rensselaer County
On Nov. 29, ECO Crain received a report about a dead deer with a crossbow bolt sticking out of it that had been found on a property in the town of East Greenbush. The ECO arrived, located the carcass, and determined it was several days old. Scavengers had picked at the carcass, revealing the stomach filled with corn. With few crop fields in the surrounding area, ECO Crain concluded one of the neighboring properties likely had a backyard bait pile where the deer had been shot. The Officer collected evidence from the scene and took photos as part of the investigation but had no subjects of interest to interview.

More than a month later, on Dec. 21, the same property owner contacted ECO Crain reporting a second dead deer on his lawn in nearly the same location. The deer had cut marks consistent with a crossbow bolt. Officer Crain backtracked the faint blood trail in the snow to the backyard of a neighboring property.

The following day, ECO Crain returned to the caller's property with Lieutenant Maloney. The two Officers followed the remainder of the blood trail to a neighboring backyard where they discovered a large area of corn and birdseed strewn adjacent to a homemade shed used as a hunting blind. Inside the blind, the Officers found a crossbow with a thermal scope mounted to it and multiple crossbow bolts with blood and hair. ECO Crain and Lt. Maloney contacted the homeowner and interviewed him about the blood trail leading to his home. The subject claimed that while he is a hunter, he had not hunted recently. However, when presented with the evidence, the hunter admitted to shooting three does over the bait pile without possessing any doe tags.

The subject was issued 12 tickets for offenses including illegal take of protected wildlife, hunting over bait, illegal take of antlerless deer without deer management permits, hunting with a crossbow during the late season without the proper license, and multiple tagging violations. All tickets are returnable to the Town of East Greenbush Justice Court. The suspect acknowledged his mistakes during the interview, as well as how he should have taken his friend's advice - "If they are in green uniforms, they know what they are doing. Whatever you do, don't lie to them."

Deer carcass remains in the woods
Doe shot by crossbow found in Rensselaer County

ECO holds arrows from crossbow
Crossbow bolds found in the subject's blind

ECO holds crossbow used in illegal hunting
Crossbow used to take three illegal does over bait

Deer Poacher Caught with Unregistered Firearm - Orange County
ECOs Doroski and Lovgren recently received a call from a witness claiming they saw two men shoot a deer out of a truck in Orange County. When the Officers arrived on scene, they found two subjects field dressing the deer. Both hunters admitted to discharging their respective firearms, killing the animal. ECO Wood and K9 CJ arrived and located a freshly fired, spent nine-millimeter shell casing, consistent with ammunition found in one of the weapons. Officers ticketed the men for the illegal take of protected wildlife, using a motor vehicle to take wildlife, and discharging a weapon within 500 feet of a dwelling. One of the subjects received a felony charge for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Deer carcass on small metal cart
Illegally taken deer seized in Orange County

photo of firearm, a black gun, used in illegal hunting incident
Firearm used in illegal take of deer in Orange County

Whispers of Rimfire in the Night - Sullivan County
On Dec. 4, Lieutenant Buckley, ECO Wood, K9 CJ, and ECO Parker completed an investigation into an illegally harvested deer in the town of Highland. The Officers received a call a day earlier from a local resident who witnessed a deer being loaded into the bed of a pickup truck. The witness obtained a license plate number and shared it with ECOs. The Officers interviewed the subject who admitted to shooting a deer with a rimfire rifle several hours after sunset the previous night. ECOs also determined through the investigation that the same hunter took two other deer during the bow season without a bowhunting privilege. The Officers seized all three deer and charged the subject with illegally taking three deer, taking two deer during the bow season without a bowhunting privilege, hunting with rimfire ammunition, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a residence, hunting game at night, failing to tag deer as required, and failing to report his harvest.

Deer hide on a tarp on the ground next to ECO vehicle
Seized deer hide in the town of Highland

ECO holds bullets and rifle is seen in the background
.22 caliber rifle used for poaching

Too Late for Turkey Sausage - Dutchess County
On Dec. 10, ECO Wamsley received a call from the Town of Hyde Park Police reporting an individual hunting from their porch near several homes. Officer Wamsley responded to the location, interviewed the hunter, and asked to see his hunting license. While the hunter was retrieving his license from the home, ECO Wamsley noticed a freshly killed wild turkey hanging from machinery on the property. The hunter, who returned with his license, said he shot the turkey that morning as it was walking through the yard and planned to make sausage from the illegally taken bird. The 2022 turkey season in Dutchess County was only open during the month of May and from Oct. 15 to 28. Officer Wamsley ticketed the hunter for taking a turkey out of season, illegally taking a protected species, failure to immediately fill out a hunting tag, and failure to tag the turkey upon harvest. Since measurements determined the hunter was further than 500 feet away from nearby homes when he shot the bird, the hunter did not receive tickets for hunting too close to a residence. The case is pending in Hyde Park Town Court.

ECO holds dead turkey upside down
ECO Wamsley with seized turkey illegally

Unattended Fire Spreads Out of Control - Montgomery County
On Dec. 14, the owner of a timber company based in Saint Johnsville paid a penalty related to an unattended fire that burned out of control. On Nov. 7, the company left a pile of waste slab wood burning overnight. The fire spread and required the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and local fire department to contain it. ECO Willson spoke to the owner of the timber operation who took responsibility for leaving the fire unattended. The Officer explained the State's open burning laws and ticketed the subject for the unattended open burn. The defendant appeared in Saint Johnsville Town Court and accepted a plea to one count of illegal disposal of solid waste, a violation, and paid a fine of $1,500 with a $90 surcharge.

large smouldering pile of burning garbage and debris
Site of unlawful open burn of solid waste

Online Maps are Not Infallible - Ontario County
On the afternoon of Dec. 16, ECO Levanway responded to a complaint by a landowner who found a truck parked on his wooded property in the town of South Bristol. Utilizing the landowner's UTV, Officer Levanway traveled on snow-covered trails to the truck parked almost one mile off the road. Footprints in the snow led in the direction of the nearby Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area. ECO Levanway and the landowner speculated the subjects were trying to get to the state land without the steep climb from East Lake Road. No one responded to repeated horn honking.

ECO Levanway opted to wait at the nearby public road to wait for the pickup truck to leave the area. About a half hour after sunset, the pickup truck reached the road and Officer Levanway interviewed the two men inside. As suspected, the pair advised they had gone up the trails to access State lands using online maps to navigate. The driver also possessed a fully cocked muzzleloading rifle behind the front seat.

ECOs remind hunters and others headed outdoors that online maps are not infallible. Hunters should also obtain permission before entering private property, always unload firearms before placing them in a vehicle, and be familiar with how their firearm works. In this case, the rifle was a traditional sidelock muzzleloader. The safe way to carry this style of rifle is at half cock, never at full cock unless the hunter is ready to shoot. The violations for trespassing and possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle were addressed with tickets and warnings as deemed appropriate by the landowner and the ECO.

ECOs Respond to Holiday Storm Event - Niagara County
On Dec. 24, ECOs Scheer, Wolgast, and Holzle assisted the Niagara County Sherriff's Office during the recent holiday snow emergency that dumped several feet of snow in Western New York. Several agencies and police forces helped local efforts with rescues, food deliveries, and snow removal. Utilizing 4x4 patrol trucks and other equipment, ECOs responded to more than two dozen calls to help protect the public and the communities they serve. Over the course of the weekend storm event, more than 30 ECOs worked almost continuously to conduct welfare checks, assist power company workers with restoring power service, and helped rescue approximately 100 motorists from multiple roadways. The Officers were placed on strike teams comprised of New York State Forest Rangers, State Troopers, Department of Transportation workers, and employees from the power authorities where they utilized their specialized training and equipment to push through adverse conditions to restore power and help the public.

Video of DEC ECOs and Forest Rangers assisting with the snow emergency in Western New York can be found on DEC's YouTube page.

ECO vehicle next to another vehicle stranded in the snow
ECO Scheer aiding stranded motorist

UTV-like vehicle with treads instead of wheels
DLE's specialized equipment was a great asset during the storm

ECO Clearing a resident's front steps of snow
ECO Bobseine assisting citizens with clearing snow

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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