DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late 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 New York.
In 2016, the 286 ECOs across the state 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 that 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:

Lake Ontario Flooding

During the ongoing high water and flooding along Lake Ontario that began in May, ECOs have added boat patrols focused on identifying public safety concerns, investigating complaints, and helping support other agencies and municipalities. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced ramped up efforts to enforce no wake zones along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline this weekend. Multiple state agencies are deploying additional resources to assist with local enforcement efforts, including a total of 20 watercraft and 42 law enforcement officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Division of Military and Naval Affairs, and State Police. As part of ongoing enforcement efforts, local municipalities may issue tickets carrying fines of up to $250 per infraction to recreational boaters violating the 5 mph speed limit within 600 feet of shore, which was announced by the Governor in May. ECOs have investigated reports of raw sewage discharges and unpermitted work being conducted in regulated areas. They have also assisted in deploying emergency materials and equipment, such as construction of temporary dams and pumps. ECOs have provided information and guidance to businesses and homeowners suffering from the record-setting high water levels. Monroe County is one of the most heavily impacted areas with ECO boat patrols concentrated in the town of Greece and city of Rochester. Staff from DEC's bureaus of Habitat, Permits, Water, and Spills have also provided support over the last several weeks.

ECOs patrolling a flooded area in Monroe County
ECOs conducting a marine patrol in the flooded areas of Monroe County

Worried Neighbors Alert Police to Trapped Fawn - Suffolk County

On June 21, ECO Tim Fay received a call from a woman in the town of Ridge stating that she and her neighbors were concerned about a deer trapped in a nearby yard. She claimed the deer was young and unable to leave a neighbor's fenced-in yard. The woman reported that it had been there for three days and was continually crying. ECOs Tim Fay, Kait Grady, and Chris Amato responded to the location. The young fawn was found under a large pine tree. ECOs Grady and Fay entered the yard and caught the fleeing fawn. The fawn was removed from the yard and moved to neighboring woods, where it bedded down to await the arrival of its mother.

ECOs lifting the fawn out of enclosed yard
ECOs Grady and Amato lift the stranded fawn out of the enclosed yard

21st Annual Mountainfest - Jefferson County

On June 21, ECOs from Jefferson and Lewis counties assisted the Fort Drum Federal Police and the U.S. Army Military Police with the annual Mountainfest celebration. Mountainfest, named after the 10th Mountain Division Stationed at Fort Drum, is an all-day celebration during which Fort Drum opens its gates to the community and allows the public to visit the base to foster community relations. The event includes military equipment displays, a "Salute to the States" ceremony, and other interactive events. The day culminated with a concert by country music star Trace Adkins and a fireworks display. An estimated 18,000 people attended the event. ECOs patrolled the perimeter on ATVs and assisted with security. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and New York State Police also assisted at the event.

ECOs posing for a picture at Fort Drum Mountainfest
ECOs Jeffrey Hull, Kevin Holzle, and Peter Jackson at Fort Drum Mountainfest

Injured Falcon - Monroe County

On June 21, ECO John Lutz was dispatched to a reported injured falcon along Seth Green Drive in the city of Rochester. Upon arrival, ECO Lutz located a juvenile Peregrine Falcon, an endangered species in New York, hopping back and forth unable to fly and attempting to push its head through a chain link fence. ECO Lutz successfully captured the injured falcon and wrapped it in a blanket without causing further injury before transporting it to Eastridge Animal Hospital for evaluation. It was determined that the falcon had no broken bones, but had suffered soft tissue damage. DEC's Division of Wildlife staff will transfer of the falcon to a rehabilitator. A complete recovery and a return to the wild are anticipated.

ECO with injured Peregrine Falcon
ECO Lutz with the injured Peregrine Falcon

Osprey Chicks Saved - Suffolk County

On June 24, ECO Ike Bobseine responded to a call concerning distressed osprey chicks on a town beach in Southampton. Upon arriving, ECO Bobseine discovered the platform that the adult ospreys had chosen to nest on had broken off during the previous night's windstorm. While nearly 80 percent grown and fully feathered, the chicks had not yet fledged and sat in the tidal marsh well below the high water mark. ECO Bobseine sustained repeated, low-altitude attacks by the two adult ospreys long enough to remove the young chicks from the marsh. The Southampton Town Bay Constabulary helped Bobseine place the chicks in the low branches of a nearby cedar tree. The following morning, ECO Katie Jakaub returned with ECO Bobseine and found the osprey chicks back on the ground. The ECOs constructed a temporary nesting platform in a nearby dead tree. The chicks were placed on the platform, where they were soon seen being tended to by their parents. The small crowd that had assembled applauded the officers for their efforts.

Osprey Chick in new nesting platform
ECO Holding Osprey Chick
ECOs Bobseine and Jakaub replacing the damaged nesting platform
If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law has 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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