Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, August 2, 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 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 illegal 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."

Emergency Storm Response - Orange, Rockland, & Putnam Counties

On July 9, ECOs Schneider and Boyes were conducting routine fishing checks along the Hudson River in Rockland County when a severe storm hit the region, causing several flooding incidents and emergency responses. The Officers assisted stranded vehicles through the seven inches of rain that flooded and washed out roadways and stranded hikers at Bear Mountain State Park. The ECOs also responded to a Putnam County train station just northeast of their location to assist County Sheriff's Offices, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Police, and New York State Police (NYSP) with a train stuck on the tracks with more than 300 passengers on board. ECOs Schneider and Boyes joined other emergency personnel to provide water to passengers while they waited for another train to arrive and take them south, away from floodwaters. New York State Park Police and DEC's Spill Response Unit also assisted with the multi-agency emergency response.

ECO helps two people in knee-deep water
ECO Schneider assisting hikers stranded in Bear Mountain State Park

ECO in reflective jacket near stranded train
ECO Boyes stands by as new engine hooks up to the stranded train

Fishing Compliance Checks - Nassau/Suffolk/Westchester Counties

Fishing compliance checks in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties resulted in several tickets for a host of violations.

  • On July 11, while patrolling Jones Beach State Park around sunset, ECO Smith observed two men using a cast net and a gill net. The Officer watched them from a distance until dark when the anglers packed up their nets and headed back to the parking lot. ECO Smith met the anglers at the parking lot and found them in possession of 300 bait-sized fish including silversides, cunner, 240 Atlantic menhaden (bunker), and two black bass. The daily limit for bunker is 100 per person and the size limit for black sea bass is 16.5 inches. The fishermen's black sea bass measured 3.5 and 4 inches. Officer Smith ticketed the pair for taking over the limit species, taking undersized species, and failure to carry a marine registry.
  • On July 15 in Suffolk County, ECO Day observed a woman crabbing on the Forge River. When asked how things were going, she said she was mostly catching small crabs, even showing the Officer one of her catches. ECO Day checked the angler's cooler and found 28 blue crabs, 27 of which were smaller than the New York State minimum of 4.5 inches. Most of the crabs were still alive and able to be returned to the river. Officer Day ticketed the crabber for possession of undersized blue crabs and failing to return crabs without unnecessary injury. All tickets are returnable to the Suffolk County First District Court.
  • Also on July 15, Officer Day responded to a complaint of people keeping short fish at Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place. While on patrol, the ECO asked to see inside the cooler of a man who claimed he did not catch any fish that day. The Officer discovered 45 porgies, 35 of which were below the required minimum of 9.5 inches when taken from shore, and two black sea bass well under the state minimum length of 16.5 inches. ECO Day ticketed the angler for the undersized porgy and black sea bass, possession of porgy over the daily limit, and failing to carry a valid marine registry. All tickets were made returnable to Suffolk County First District Court.
  • On July 18 while patrolling the shores of the Hudson River in Westchester County, ECO Tompkins pulled into a popular kayaking launch at the mouth of the Annsville Creek and noticed two men standing in a pavilion with two white five-gallon buckets and a large garbage bag. Officer Tompkins approached the anglers as they moved briskly toward a vehicle driven by a third individual and stopped the group before they took off. The ECO conducted a compliance check and discovered 301 pumpkinseed, 8 bluegill, 3 red breast sunfish, 39 white perch, 5 brown bullhead, 3 Atlantic silverside, a gizzard shad, a golden shiner, and a banded killifish. The fish were all illegally caught with a cast net. The Officer issued the group eight tickets for taking fish by means other than angling, possessing over the daily limit of sunfish, and fishing without a license. All tickets are returnable to the Town of Cortlandt Court.

very small fish
Undersized black sea bass seized at Jones Beach State Park in Nassau County

three small crab on a measuring tool
Undersized blue crabs from Forge River in Suffolk County

a lot of dead fish lined up on the grass next to the net that caught them
Fish caught illegally with cast net in Westchester County

Burmese Python Seized - Nassau County

On July 13, Lieutenant Unger and ECO Kochanowski responded to a residence after receiving a report that the homeowner wanted to turn in a 14-foot Burmese python. The Officers arrived to find the python living in the owner's garage in a five-foot glass terrarium and spent the day scrambling to find an appropriate home for the snake, eventually coordinating a pickup with the owner. The next day, ECOs Kochanowski and Smith seized the python and transported it to Connecticut for transfer to an employee of a licensed facility in Massachusetts. Burmese pythons are classified as an animal dangerous to health or welfare and require a special license from New York State to possess. The homeowner was ticketed for illegal possession of dangerous wildlife.

large yellow and white snake in a terrarium
Burmese python seized from Nassau County home

close-up of the head of the large yellow and white snake
Close-up of Burmese python seized from Nassau County home

"Rattled" Service Workers - Delaware County

On July 17, ECO Osborne responded to a timber rattlesnake complaint in the town of Hancock. A group of utility workers conducting maintenance at a cell tower discovered the 40-inch snake inside the door of one of the tower's electrical boxes and called for help. Officer Osborne, who is a member of DEC's Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) Wildlife Response Team, safely removed the rattlesnake using snake tongs and returned it to the wild. While rarely seen, timber rattlesnakes are venomous pit vipers native to New York State and considered a threatened species protected by law.

large rattlesnake being released into some leaves
ECO Osborne catches and frees timber rattlesnake discovered at worksite in Delaware County

Deer Poacher Gets Jail Time - Jefferson County

A town of Orleans man is serving time behind bars for failing to pay penalties related to past poaching crimes. On Oct. 25, 2022, ECOs Jackson and Nicholas began investigating reports of a subject shooting and killing an eight-point buck earlier that week. The subject, Lane Angus, lost his hunting privileges in 2021 for multiple hunting violations and the unlawful harvest of numerous white-tailed deer. During the investigation, the Officers determined Angus harvested the eight-point buck despite knowing his hunting privileges were revoked. The ECOs seized the deer, the rifle used to shoot it, and ticketed Angus for two misdemeanor charges of unlawfully taking big game and hunting while privileges are revoked. The subject later picked up additional charges for his role in the illegal take of another deer at night, with a light, and from a vehicle. Angus pleaded guilty to the charges in the Town of Orleans Court but failed to pay fines as required by his plea agreement. The Court issued a warrant for his arrest in June 2023, and ECOs Mcfee and now Environmental Crimes Investigator (ECI) Jackson arrested him July 18. A judge ordered Angus remanded to the Jefferson County Jail for 30 days due to his continued disregard for the Court and State Environmental Conservation Law.

ECO holding a deer by the antlers
ECO Jackson with deer harvested illegally in Jefferson County

Pesticides Detail - New York County

On July 21, ECOs in New York City joined forces with DEC Bureau of Pesticides employees for a detail focused on the illegal sale of pesticides by street vendors in Washington Heights. Environmental Conservation Investigator Harvey, ECOs Ableson, Clinger, Farner, Kortz, and Lieutenant Levanway were joined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criminal Investigations Division Special Agents and Officers from the New York Police Department (NYPD) for this latest effort to crackdown on the sale of pesticides illegal for use in the U.S. One pesticide seized in this detail is a potent and volatile organophosphate known as "Sniper DDVP." Sniper is occasionally sold in repurposed spray bottles labeled for hair care products. This pesticide, especially in an unlabeled bottle, has the potential to be misused, potentially injuring or poisoning people and pets.

ECOs and other employees take group photo at pesticide detail
ECOs, Bureau of Pesticides employees, and EPA Special Agents on Washington Heights pesticides detail

ECO stands next to table stacked with illegal pesticides
ECO Kortz next to table containing illegal pesticides seized in Washington Heights

various bottles of illegal pesticides
"Sniper DDVP" disguised in hair care bottles discovered during pesticides detail

Egret Extrication - Putnam County

On July 24, ECO Franz received a call about an injured egret stuck in Barger Pond in the town of Putnam Valley. The Officer arrived at the location and discovered the bird stuck in a muddy area near the shore. Bystanders advised the ECO that the bird had been trapped for several hours and appeared unresponsive. ECO Franz removed the egret from the mud and safely transported the bird to a local wildlife rehabilitator. The bird was initially assessed to be underweight but had no immediately apparent or severe injuries.

ECO holding large white bird
ECO Franz with rescued egret in Putnam County

Bad Paint Job - Nassau County

On July 25, Nassau County Police requested ECO assistance with investigating an auto body shop in the hamlet of Elmont suspected of conducting an illegal outdoor spray-painting operation, among other environmental quality violations. ECO Pabes responded to the location and spoke to the shop owner who claimed spray work was done off-site but refused to disclose the off-site location. Smelling a strong odor of paint from behind a closed door near a vehicle at the body shop, Officer Pabes found approximately 25 gallons of paint, including paint thinners and primers, as well as masks and spray bottles. ECO Pabes issued the owner of the shop five tickets for operating an unregistered air contaminant business, failure to control Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), failure to maintain emission records, applying surface coatings without an enclosure, and failure to use appropriate emission control measures. Nassau County Fire Marshals also issued the owner multiple fire safety violations and seized all spray guns. Tickets are returnable to Nassau County First District Court and the shop was ordered to cease all spray operations.

white vehicle with large brown tarp hanging over it
Illegal outdoor spray-painting operation discovered at Nassau County body shop

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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