Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Thursday, May 11, 2023

Environmental Conservation Police Officers 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 2022, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responded to more than 25,600 calls and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 13,800 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 work hard each day to serve their communities, protect our precious natural resources, and safeguard public health, while ensuring those who break the state's stringent Environmental Conservation Laws are held accountable," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "In partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement, DEC looks forward to continuing to support the work our ECOs perform in every corner of New York."

ECOs Deliver Zoo Donations - Dutchess County
On March 20, ECOs Tompkins and Wamsley donated several fish to the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook. The fish were all seized during recent striped bass enforcement details along the Hudson River. ECOs have been donating fish to the Trevor Zoo for years to feed an assortment of animals ranging from owls and hawks to wolves and otters. This time, the Officers had the chance to assist with the feeding, which is a rare occurrence. The donations are happily accepted by zoo employees, helping lower the cost of feeding the animals and preventing the waste of seized fish.

ECOs feeding endangered red wolves through a fence
ECOs Tompkins and Wamsley feeding striped bass to critically endangered red wolves

ECOs feeding a turtle at the zoo
ECOs Wamsley and Tompkins feed a turtle at the Trevor Zoo in Dutchess County

Striper Details - Nassau/Orange/Rockland Counties
ECOs downstate conducted several fish compliance checks in April focused on anglers taking striped bass:

  • On April 9, ECO Pabes responded to a report of multiple anglers taking out-of-season striped bass from a construction zone at the Bayville Bridge in Bayville. The recreational striped bass season opens on April 15 in marine waters and the current striped bass slot size limit is 28-35 inches to be legal to harvest. Officer Pabes seized 15 striped bass and ticketed all anglers at the location with taking fish out of season and failure to obtain a marine fishing registry, returnable to Nassau County First District Court. Nassau County Police issued parking tickets to the driver as well.
  • On April 19, ECO Pabes notified ECOs Kochanowski and DeRose, along with K9 Cramer, to respond and assist with a report of anglers keeping undersized striped bass and carrying them back to a parking area adjacent to Hempstead Harbor. By the end of the night, ECOs seized eight undersized striped bass and issued eight tickets including possessing over the limit of striped bass, possessing undersized striped bass, and failure to possess a valid marine fishing registry. K9 Cramer was instrumental in detecting fish hidden in cars.
  • On April 22 and 23, Region 3 ECOs and K9 CJ saturated Orange and Rockland counties looking for recreational fishing violations. In total, Officers issued 26 tickets for various freshwater/marine fishing violations including illegal possession of fish, illegal taking of fish, fishing without a license/registry, and failure to use non-offset circle hooks for striped bass. ECO Wood and K9 CJ were instrumental in locating illegal striped bass hidden by subjects along the shoreline.

DEC will be updating 2023 recreational saltwater fishing regulations for striped bass in marine waters to a slot limit of 28-31 inches after Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) found that the probability of the stock being rebuilt by 2029 has significantly decreased. The emergency action requires implementation of a 31-inch maximum slot limit for current recreational fisheries, however, it does not change the size limit on the Hudson River (north of the George Washington Bridge) which will remain at 18-to-28 inches. Recreational striped bass regulations in New York will not change until passage of New York State emergency regulations. Once state regulations are put into effect, DEC will seek public comment on the proposed regulation. Anglers are encouraged to continue to check DEC's webpage for the current limits in effect.

K9 Cramer with the undersizec striped bass in front of ECO truck
K9 Cramer assists Officers in finding hidden undersized striped bass

Two ECOs with seized striped bass in front of ECO SUV
ECOs Schneider and Schuck with seized striped bass

Routine Patrol Results in Multi-Agency Arrest - Washington County
On April 12, while patrolling a public parking area commonly used by anglers to access the Champlain Canal, ECO Thibodeau observed two individuals acting suspiciously in a vehicle. He began a preliminary investigation and then contacted the Washington County Sherriff's Department for assistance. Officers later arrested the subjects for outstanding warrants and searched the vehicle where they found drugs and drug paraphernalia. A lock box inside the car also contained more controlled substances. Both subjects are facing drug possession charges and one of the individuals, wanted on a federal warrant, was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after being processed on the state charges.

Family of Opossums Go Electric- Suffolk County
On April 17, ECO Dickson responded to a call reporting a mother opossum and her babies in the engine compartment of a car at a dealership in Copiague. When he arrived at the dealership, ECO Dickson met with anxious employees and mechanics who showed him where the opossums were located. The mother crawled deep into the engine compartment of an electric car with her babies. The mechanics assisted by putting the car on a lift and removing the skid plates and guards so ECO Dickson and a wildlife rehabilitator could safely remove the mother and babies. Opossums are North America's only marsupial and can have upwards of 12 babies that will cling to the mother until they become too big to hold on. This lucky opossum family was safely transported to receive care and monitoring until they can be released to the wild.

ECO holding a small opposum in one hand
ECO Dickson with a member of the rescued opossum family

Opposums hidden in car engine
Opossums hidden deep within electric vehicle engine

rescued opposums in an open bin
Baby opossums rescued from electric vehicle

Pesticides Detail - Westchester County
On April 19, ECOs Tompkins, Wamsley, Frano, Swansen, and Franz, with assistance from DEC Bureau of Pesticides employees, conducted a pesticides saturation detail in Westchester County. The detail focused on locations in Rye, Eastchester, Bronxville, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, and Harrison. ECOs issued a total of 12 tickets for violations of New York State pesticide laws including unlawful storage of pesticides, operating an unregistered pesticide business, and possession of unregistered pesticides, among other environmental quality violations not directly related to pesticide enforcement.

ECO inspecting pesticide applicator truck
ECO Wamsley conducting a pesticide application compliance check

Youth Turkey Hunt - Suffolk County
On April 22, ECOs Della Rocco, Boyes, Dickson, Small, Zullo, Cacciola, DeVito, McGhee, Simmons, Vandenbos, Michelet, and Giarratana participated in the second annual Suffolk County Youth Hunt sponsored by the New York Conservation Officers Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and several area businesses. Each Officer took a youth hunter out on Suffolk County public land to hunt wild turkeys, serving as a mentor to the hunter and their parent. Seventeen young hunters participated in the event and four of them successfully harvested a tom turkey. After the hunt on Saturday, Officers, participants, and volunteers attended a pizza party with prizes including hats, face masks, turkey hunting vests, and gun-cleaning kits. ECO Della Rocco also assisted the Department of Health with taking samples of each turkey's heart, liver, and spleen for testing resistance to Lyme disease. All involved were very pleased with the event, and the participants all asked to be added to next year's festivities.

group of hunters with turkeys
Suffolk County Youth Hunt group with young hunters, mentors, ECOs, and parents

two youth hunters with box calls
Young hunters with box calls

four people with their hunt prizes
Prize winners at Youth Turkey Hunt in Suffolk County

Earth Week Environmental Quality Details on Long Island
During Earth Week 2023, Region 1 ECOs participated in Environmental Quality enforcement details. The Officers conducted inspections on heavy-duty diesel trucks, pesticide applicators, and dry cleaning establishments in or near Environmental Justice communities on Long Island. Environmental Justice is the fair and meaningful treatment of all people, regardless of race, income, national origin, or color, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. These enforcement details bolster DEC efforts to ensure residents disproportionately impacted by pollution have access to the tools needed to address environmental concerns.

During the detail, ECOs Cacciola, Anderson, Carpenter, Perkins, McGhee, DeVito, and specialists from the DEC Pesticides Bureau conducted pesticide applicator inspections across Nassau and Suffolk counties. Of the 40 commercial landscape crews inspected, 37 received tickets and one received a written warning. Charges included failure to register a pesticide business, unlabeled service containers, failure to display pesticide decals, uncertified applicators, and misuse of pesticides.

ECO speaking with pesticide applicator
ECO Perkins checks pesticide applicator to ensure compliance with New York State regulations

ECOs inspecting pesticide applicator's trailer
ECOs Perkins and McGhee inspecting a pesticide applicator's trailer

ECOs Dickson, Pabes, Brussell, and Smith conducted Earth Week patrols focusing on air quality enforcement in the town of Hempstead and neighboring townships. Officers issued one ticket for failure to possess a valid heavy-duty diesel vehicle (HDDV) safety inspection, one ticket for an expired vehicle registration, a written warning for failing to display current numbered placards on a vehicle, and two written warnings for failure to post the Returnable Container Law Bill of Rights.

ECO checking for diesal truck violation
ECO Smith checks for violations on diesel truck during air quality enforcement detail on Long Island

ECOs DeVito, Simmons, and Giarratana spent Earth Week conducting inspections of dry cleaning facilities on the eastern end of Long Island. The Officers issued tickets for violations including incomplete record keeping, incomplete weekly leak inspections, unsecured vapor barrier doors, failure to label waste storage containers, and no fire control device.

unlabled waste storage container
Unlabeled waste storage container

correctly labeled waste storage container
Properly labeled waste storage container

label on fire extinguisher
ECOs inspect fire control equipment at dry cleaner

Earth Day Outreach with the Girl Scouts - Suffolk County
Investigator Grady spoke to Brownies from Girl Scout Troop 2130 at Setauket Elementary School in honor of Earth Week. She spoke to the second graders about the importance of protecting the environment, our natural resources, and the people and wildlife in New York State. The young scouts enjoyed learning about native wildlife, becoming environmental stewards, and completing recycling-related activities to earn their "Eco Friend" badge.

Brownie troop with ECO
Brownies from Troop 2130 examining a marten pelt with DEC Investigator Grady

Impatient Turkey Hunter - Saratoga County
On April 30, one day before spring turkey season opened, ECO Shaw received an anonymous tip from a complainant who reported hearing a single shot earlier that morning and watched his neighbor run into a wooded area with a large bag. Officer Shaw arrived at the location and interviewed the suspected hunter. The hunter eventually admitted to shooting a large tom turkey out of season, claiming he was too anxious for the season to begin. However, a quick check with DEC Dispatch revealed the hunter had not yet purchased his turkey privileges. When ECO Shaw asked to inspect the firearm used to illegally take the bird, the hunter handed over a rifle that is not legal for hunting turkeys. Officer Shaw issued tickets to the hunter for hunting out of season, hunting without a turkey privilege, and taking turkey with a rifle. He also seized the turkey as evidence.

ECO holding illegally taken turkey
ECO Shaw in Saratoga County with turkey taken illegally one day before the start of the hunting season

Illegal Turkey Take - Delaware County
On May 1, opening day of the spring turkey hunting season, ECOs Doig and Osborne responded to a complaint of a wild turkey shot from a public roadway in the town of Hancock. The Officers arrived at the scene, observed fresh footprints entering private property, and located evidence indicating a turkey was taken. Further investigation led them to the hunter accused of shooting the turkey. When confronted with the evidence against him, the subject admitted to shooting the bird on posted property from the roadway. ECOs issued tickets to the subject for trespass on posted property, shooting from a public roadway, and unlawfully taking a wild turkey. The Officers seized the turkey as evidence. All charges are returnable to Hancock Town Court.

Two ECOs holding illegally taken turkey
Officers Osborne and Doig with seized turkey taken illegally in Delaware County

An Unlikely Solicitation - Cattaraugus County
An antiques business owner recently pleaded guilty to charges related to the illegal sale of endangered and protected animal mounts from his business in Great Valley. The investigation began when ECO Wilson and an Investigator with DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) received information that a lion skin rug was being unlawfully offered for purchase at an estate sale. Both Officers, operating in an undercover capacity, attended the estate sale. During the event, an antiques business owner approached the pair and claimed he had a lion skin rug for sale and could offer them the best price for the item. The undercover Officers later visited the store in Great Valley where they saw the lion skin rug on sale for $1,200 and multiple other mounted displays of endangered and protected species. The two investigating Officers, joined by a team of ECOs and an agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, entered the store, seized a series of illegal mounts valued at more than $4,000, and charged the owner of the store. On May 10, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor illegal commercialization of wildlife in Great Valley Town Court and was sentenced to pay a fine of $2,000. As part of the plea agreement, the subject agreed that if within one year he violates Environmental Conservation Law again, the initial felony commercialization charge will be reinstated.

Illegal lion head rug on table
ECO Hozle, BECI Investigator, and ECO Wilson with the illegal lion rug

DLE Pipe and Drum Band Honors Park Police Graduates - Saratoga County
On May 3, DEC DLE Director Karen Przyklek attended the graduation of the 17th New York State Park Police Officers Basic School at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga. DLE's Pipe and Drum Band joined Director Przyklek and opened the ceremony by marching in the Academy staff and 32 new Park Police Officers. The Environmental Conservation Police band consists of current and retired members of the New York State DEC DLE.

pipe and drum band walking and playing instruments
DEC DLE Pipe and Drum Band marching in the Park Police graduates

pipe and drum band with DLE Director
DLE Director Przyklek (front row, right of drum) with members of the Department of Environmental Conservation Police Pipe and Drum band

Fallen DLE Officers Added to Police Memorial - Albany County
On May 9, the names of three DLE Officers who sacrificed their lives in service to their communities were among 55 Police Officers added to the New York State Police Memorial in Albany this week. Lieutenant Paul C. Adam, Police Officer Lawrence E. Cabana, and Investigator Thomas J. Graham all passed away from illnesses related to their time working at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The names were added to the memorial, which now recognizes 1,772 men and women from 150 police departments, sheriffs' offices, and federal agencies. DEC honors them and thanks them for their service.

Portrait of Lt. Paul C. Adam
Lt. Paul C. Adam began his career with the State University of New York (SUNY) Police and transferred to DEC's Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) in 1988. He spent most of his career in Region 7 and at the DLE Training Academy. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2007 and retired in 2013 after 30 years of police service. Lieutenant Paul Adams was 54 years old.

Portrait of ECO Larry E. Cabana
ECO Lawrence ("Larry") E. Cabana began his career with the Hoosick Falls Police in 1979 and transferred to DLE in 1984. He spent most of his career in DEC Region 5 and was a founding member of the DLE Honor Guard. He retired in 2011 after 32 years of police service. ECO Lawrence Cabana was 65 years old.

Portrait of Investigator Thomas J. Graham
Investigator Thomas J. Graham began as an ECO in 1984. In 2008, he was promoted to Investigator. He retired in 2013 after 29 years of service in DEC's DLE. Investigator Graham was 60 years old.

DLE Director with family members of late DLE Officers
DLE Director Karen Przyklek with family members of DLE Officers who lost their lives serving their communities

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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