DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In 2020, the 298 ECOs and Investigators across the state responded to 29,673 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 11,952 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

Two-thousand-and-twenty-one marks New York's Conservation Police Officers' 141st anniversary. In 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State.

"DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers are working hard in communities across New York to protect natural resources by upholding our state's stringent laws and regulations and protecting public safety," Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Our ECOs are expertly trained to perform their duties in every setting-from cities to wilderness-and continue to adapt to meet new and emerging challenges as they build on their longstanding commitment to protect New York's environment."

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).

Dolphin Watch - Suffolk County
On Jan. 10, ECOs Bobseine and Doroski assisted the Riverhead Foundation with locating a dolphin in Bellport Bay. The dolphin had been living in the bay for nearly one year. Since 2020, the foundation has periodically checked on the animal due to reported sightings. On this sunny winter afternoon, the dolphin surfaced as the two ECOs made it under Smith's Point Bridge in their safeboat. A biologist for the Riverhead Foundation, also onboard the vessel, quickly identified the dolphin and determined it was healthy before it swam away.

Photo from boat, looking at a dolphin in the water below
ECOs help check on a dolphin in Bellport Bay, Suffolk County

Operation Back Road - Statewide
DEC's Division of Law Enforcement released the results of "Operation Back Road," a recent statewide detail targeting illegal hunting from roads. During the 2020 hunting season, ECOs used technology, local intelligence, and 147 robotic decoy deer over 300 hours to catch poachers hunting from vehicles or along roadways, putting communities in danger. During the detail, ECOs apprehended 19 suspects for shooting at the decoys from roadways and issued tickets for 37 misdemeanors, 29 additional violations of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), and seven charges outside the ECL. Officers conducted the Operation Back Road detail during the last two weeks of the Northern Zone and last three weeks of the Southern Zone hunting seasons. During the 2020 fall hunting season, ECOs statewide issued more than 244 tickets for road hunting-related offenses.

COVID-19 Vaccination Response - Statewide
New York State has begun the process of opening up COVID-19 vaccination centers over many parts of the state. ECOs, Forest Rangers, and other DEC experts are on the front lines assisting federal, state, local and non-government entities build and support vaccination sites at multiple locations, filling various key positions in the incident command structure up to the highest level of incident commander and working closely with other DEC staff and partners in this important mission.

ECO standing in front of staff, speaking to all of them at a vaccination site
Planning Section Chief ECO Bohling gives morning briefing at
Westchester County vaccination site

Recently Closed DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crime Investigation Cases

Illegal Sale of Bear Bile Products - NYC Chinatown
Some New York City stores recently paid penalties for illegally selling bear bile products. In 2019, Region 2 Investigator Harvey received intel from global wildlife organization "World Animal Protection," alleging these products were being offered for sale in stores throughout the city. Preliminary inspections of the locations confirmed these findings, and ECOs executed a sting on Sept. 2, 2020. With the assistance of ECOs Shea, McCarthy, and Parmelee, the team seized thousands of dollars in bear bile products from three locations. DEC entered into consent orders with each store that included $5,000-$4,500 in suspended penalties; illegal items were forfeited to DEC. Bear bile has historically been valued in some cultures as a traditional medicine and continues to be commercialized worldwide.

Illegal Commercialization of Leopard Hide - Beacon
On Oct. 9, 2020, a Beacon woman paid a penalty for trying to sell a leopard hide online. On Aug. 19, 2020, Investigator Sulkey responded to an ad for the sale of a leopard hide listed at $1,400. On Aug. 25, 2020, Investigator Sulkey posed as a potential buyer and met with the seller of the hide, Kimberly Sauer. Sauer offered the hide for sale and stated that it was authentic leopard. ECO Wamsley, waiting nearby, responded to assist with the seizure. Sauer entered into an order on consent with DEC for the illegal commercialization of this listed endangered species. In addition to paying a $500 penalty, she forfeited the leopard hide.

ECO stands for a photo holding leopard pelt in front of his vehicle
ECO Sulkey with seized leopard hide

https://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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