DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for June

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across the state.

In 2016, the 286 ECOs responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Backyard Bear Earns a Trip to the Catskills - Rockland County

On June 1, ECO Melissa Burgess received a call regarding a black bear running loose in the village of Nyack. The Orangetown Police Department was seeking DEC assistance after its officers and local Animal Control Officers confined the bear to a residential back yard, where it had climbed a tree. ECO Burgess contacted DEC Biologist Matt Merchant, a bear specialist, and his team, and they responded with bear relocation supplies and additional staff. DEC Wildlife staff successfully tranquilized, captured, and tagged the young bear before loading the animal into a trailer for relocation in the Catskills, where he can resume his life in the wild.

Bear up a tree.
Bear tranquilization and relocation in Nyack.
Bear tranquilization and relocation in Nyack.

No, You Can't Keep a Deer for Six Weeks - Chautauqua County

On June 9, ECO Jerry Kinney received a complaint of an individual in possession of a whitetail deer fawn in the city of Jamestown. ECO Kinney visited the location and interviewed a subject at the residence. The officer discovered a fawn being kept on the second floor of the house. The resident stated he had been told he could keep the fawn for up to six weeks and then release it back into the wild. Unfortunately for the resident, this information is not accurate. ECO Kinney took possession of the fawn and issued a ticket to the resident for Illegal Possession of Protected Wildlife. The fawn was found to be in good health and released back into the wild.

Marine Enforcement on Long Island - Nassau County

On June 10, ECOs Evan Laczi, Ike Bobseine, and Lt. Sean Reilly attended a shark fishing tournament in Point Lookout. The officers checked fisherman coming in with Mako and Thresher sharks for federal permits. After the tournament ended, additional checks found undersized Fluke and striped bass. ECOs issued several tickets, including Failing to Possess a Marine Registry, Possessing Undersized Striped Bass, and Taking Undersized Fluke.

Caught Thresher shark
ECOs Evan Laczi and Ike Bobseine with an 8-foot long Thresher shark weighing almost 300 pounds.

Facebook Posts Lead to Illegal Turkey Hunting Charges - Essex County

On June 10, ECO Brad Buffa received information about an individual from Keeseville that had posted photos on his Facebook page indicating he had taken over the limit of turkeys during the May turkey hunting season. Photos on the subject's Facebook page showed the individual with one turkey taken on opening day and two turkeys taken on Mother's Day. The hunter posted a picture of himself with the two turkeys captioned: "Two birds with one stone, (well, shot)." Hunters are only allowed two turkeys during the spring season and cannot take more than one turkey per day. ECO Buffa interviewed the individual who posted the photos. He admitted to taking all three turkeys, claiming he accidentally shot the two turkeys with one shot. In total, four tickets were issued for the hunting violations, including Taking Over the Season Limit and Over the Daily Limit of Turkeys. The tickets are returnable on June 26 in the Chesterfield Town Court.

Newfane Elementary Environmental Fair - Niagara County

On June 13, ECOs Tim Machnica and Josh Wolgast attended the Newfane Elementary School Environmental Fair. The officers gave 10 short presentations to approximately 200 third-grade students. The 20-minute presentation included describing the job of an Environmental Conservation Officer, as well as an introduction to hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations. Pelts from a variety of animals were exhibited, allowing the students an up-close examination of local wildlife. The students had a variety of questions and concerns that the officers discussed and answered throughout the presentations.

ECOs Machnica and Wolgast with Newfane Elementary students.
ECOs Machnica and Wolgast with Newfane Elementary students.

Hooked in Harlem - New York County

On June 14, ECO Spencer Noyes assisted with an 'I Fish NY' event at the Harlem Meer in Central Park. Noyes introduced dozens of children from Public School 32 to fishing at the event. Several students caught bluegills, pumpkinseed, and largemouth bass, and ECO Noyes answered kids' questions about fish and wildlife in the NYC area. The children gained a better understanding about conservation and several expressed interest in going fishing again.

ECO Spencer Noyes with enthusiastic children learning to fish.
ECO Spencer Noyes with enthusiastic children learning to fish.

Dumping the Evidence in the Dark - Bronx County

On the evening of June 16, ECOs Jason Smith and Zach Brown received a tip about a boat leaving a marina on City Island. The complainant stated that this particular boat goes out at night and keeps anywhere from 10 to 15 striped bass. The ECOs patrolled the marina and waited for the boat in question to return. As the vessel approached the docks, the occupants spotted the ECOs and one of the subjects picked up a cooler and dumped what appeared to be five fish overboard. After repeated commands from the ECOs to stop, the occupants also threw three garbage bags into the water before coming in to dock. Unable to determine the fish species or contents of the garbage bags, the officers issued tickets for Dumping Upon Orders to Stop and Littering in Waters of the State.

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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