DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions for Mid-January

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

In 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the 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 DEC 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."

Red-tailed Hawk Injured - Sullivan County
On Jan. 15, ECOs Christopher Doroski and Michael Hameline responded to Low Road in the town of Neversink to investigate a report of a red-tailed hawk that appeared to be injured and was unable to fly. Upon arrival, the ECOs observed the hawk with a broken wing. The ECOs captured the bird and placed it in a carrier for transport to a nearby wildlife rehabilitator.

ECO standing in a woodsy area with injured hawk in arms
ECO Doroski with injured hawk
Hazardous Obstacles Marked for Lake Safety - Great Sacandaga Lake
On Jan. 17, ECOs Paul Pasciak and Wes Leubner, along with Forest Rangers Michael Thompson and Ian Kerr, conducted a patrol on Great Sacandaga Lake to assess docks that broke free from shore and became frozen in ice south of the Batchellerville Bridge. The docks likely broke free during heavy rains in early winter and became frozen in the main portion of the lake when temperatures dropped. Due to unsafe ice conditions, Forest Rangers Kerr and Thompson piloted an airboat with ECOs Pasciak and Leubner on board to locate the docks. The three docks could not be removed, but the ECOs and Forest Rangers used reflective signs and high visibility flagging tape to ensure the docks are noticeable during the day and at night. As always, snowmobilers are encouraged to use caution operating on trails and frozen waterbodies, keeping in mind that with changing ice conditions, potential hazards can be difficult to predict. For more information on snowmobile safety when traveling on ice visit DEC's website.

ECO and Forest Ranger on a dock on a frozen lake putting up safety reflectors
ECOs and Forest Rangers mark potentially hazardous obstacles to snowmobile traffic on Great Sacandaga Lake
Bear Rescue - Herkimer County
On Jan. 19, a concerned resident of Old Forge contacted ECO Robert Howe about a small malnourished bear cub that had been wandering around his property for several days. ECO Howe responded to the location, captured the bear, and transported it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Bear cub in a wildlife crate under a heatlamp and blanket
Bear Cub treated at a rehabilitation center
Bald Eagle Rescue - Chemung County
On Jan. 20, a New York State Police (NYSP) Trooper contacted a wildlife rehabilitator after observing an injured eagle on the bank of a pond in Horseheads. Attempts to catch the eagle were unsuccessful, because the bird continued to jump into the pond, evading capture. ECO Travis McNamara was contacted and asked to assist. With the help of Troopers Nathan Lowmaster and Brandon Salyerds, and Elmira Animal Control, ECO McNamara tracked down and cornered the eagle near the pond. The ECO used a landing net to safely capture the eagle and transport it to Cornell Wildlife Health Center.

Two troopers and an ECO pose for a photo with the injured bald eagle they rescued
Trooper Lowmaster, Trooper Salyerds, and ECO McNamara with injured eagle

Hawk Rescue - Dutchess County
On Jan. 20, while on patrol in Orange County, ECOs Heather Carl and William Chomicki received a report of an injured hawk in the city of Poughkeepsie. When the ECOs arrived, the red-tailed hawk was perched on a low branch with what appeared to be a broken wing. The hawk was quickly captured without incident, transported to New Paltz Hospital for observation, and later picked up by a wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.

ECO poses with the rehabilitated hawk before she releases it
ECO Carl with injured hawk

Cub Scout Outreach - Oneida County
On Jan. 23, ECO Jeff Hull spoke to the VVS Cub Scouts about an ECO's training and responsibilities. The children asked a variety of questions, such as where does Santa get his reindeer, have you ever seen a black mamba, and is it true you can suck venom out of a bite. A few youngsters were quick to offer up information about family members shooting more than their legal limit of deer and using illegal traps. Before departing, one young cub scout approached ECO Hull with a stuffed animal that had a globe stuck on its head, mimicking the deer in the globe ECO Hull rescued in 2016. The young lady asked the officer how he would handle such a situation, which caused everyone to laugh. ECO Hull reported that the outreach opportunities are often the most enjoyable part of the job.

ECO and a large Cub Scout group take a photo in a school cafeteria
ECO Hull poses for a photo with the VVS Cub Scouts

ECO Hull laughs as he holds a stuffed animal with a globe stuck on its head
A young scout asks ECO Hull a familiar question

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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