|New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police 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, black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.
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).
"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:
Please Pass ... On The Salt - Cortland County
On Nov. 18, ECO Matthew Burdick was patrolling Route 120 in the town of Virgil when he observed two hunters dragging two deer to a parked pick-up truck. ECO Burdick stopped and found that both deer were untagged, although the hunters claimed they were going to tag them once they got back to the truck. ECO Burdick asked the hunters to show him where the deer had been taken. The hunters led ECO Burdick into the adjacent valley and showed him a deer blind, where there was a half-eaten salt block nearby. ECO Burdick issued tickets to the two men for placing a salt block for non-agricultural purposes, hunting with the aid of pre-established bait, illegal taking of deer, and failure to fill out a carcass tag immediately upon harvest. All tickets are returnable to Town of Virgil Justice Court.
The K-9 Nose Knows - Cortland County
On Nov. 19, ECO Matthew Burdick responded to a Cortland County 911 radio call of shots fired from a roadway in the town of Cincinnatus. Cortland County Sheriff's Deputies stopped the truck in question and found a dead deer in the bed of it. When questioned, the driver of the truck stated he had shot the deer in a totally different location than the complaint they were investigating. ECO Burdick arrived and contacted ECO Brett Armstrong and K-9 Phoenix to help search for evidence. K-9 Phoenix quickly located four spent shotgun shells along the gravel roadside. Armed with new evidence, the two ECOs questioned the driver once again and asked to see the firearm used to shoot the deer. A quick check determined the gun was loaded with shells matching those found on the roadway. Faced with the inevitable, the driver admitted to shooting the deer from the road. The suspect was issued tickets for taking wildlife from a public roadway, possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm over a public highway, and the illegal taking of deer. All of the charges are returnable to the Town of Cincinnatus Justice Court. The 8-point buck was seized and donated to NYS Venison Donation Coalition program.
Too Soon to Shoot - Ulster County
On Nov. 21, ECOs Josh Sulkey and Lucas Palmateer responded to a complaint that two hunters shot approximately 40 minutes before legal sunrise in the town of Marbletown. The two subjects were seen in a field and admitted to taking a doe at first light. After interviewing the two hunters and the witness, the ECOs determined that the first shot was taken around 6:15 a.m. and the second at approximately 6:30 a.m. Legal sunrise that day was 6:54 a.m. The ECOs were also able to determine that the shots were taken within 350 feet of several nearby houses. The deer was already dressed out and a DMP carcass tag wasn't filled out. ECO Sulkey recognized the one hunter from the prior hunting season and contacted the local court to check on the status of a previous warrant, which was still active. The one hunter was arrested on the warrant and was charged with taking big game before legal hours, shooting a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, failure to tag as required, and illegally taking a deer. The second hunter was charged with hunting without a license and for illegally taking a deer. They were both arraigned at the Town of Marbletown Court. DEC would like to remind hunters that the legal hunting hours are from official sunrise to official sunset. Watch this YouTube video to learn more.
Loaded Polluter Nabbed - Orange County
On Nov. 25, Capt. Martin Townley observed a dump truck bringing a load of fill contaminated with solid waste to a dump site in the town of Wallkill. The site had been shut down by DLE due to previous instances of contaminated fill being unlawfully placed there. Capt. Townley conducted a traffic stop and interviewed the operator. He detected the odor of alcohol coming from the cab of his vehicle. A quick check of the operators' driving record documented a lengthy list of infractions, including failing to pay fines and failing to answer summonses, which resulted in the revocation of his driver's license. Capt. Townley contacted ECO Jonathon Walraven and State Police units to assist. A field sobriety test was conducted and it was determined that he was driving while impaired by alcohol. The operator was taken into custody and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, a class E Felony, driving while ability impaired (DWAI), and driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The dump truck, along with its contents, were towed to the local impound lot and the operator was held for arraignment in the Wallkill Town Court.
Pennsylvania Deer Seized in New York - Delaware County
On Nov. 27, the opening day of Pennsylvania's gun season for antlered deer, ECOs Vern Bauer, Nate Doig, George Wilber, Jared Woodin and Lt. Kevin Beiter checked two bridge crossings into New York from Pennsylvania for vehicles bringing deer into New York illegally. Because of the risk of spreading Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), it is illegal to bring a deer carcass from Pennsylvania into New York without it being processed first. Four deer from Pennsylvania were confiscated during the detail and four individuals were written tickets returnable to the Town of Hancock Court for violating CWD regulations. Additionally, the Hancock Police Department wrote tickets for multiple vehicle and traffic law violations and a marijuana possession violation during the checkpoint.