ECO Actions for Late February
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 2017, the 301 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:
Walleye Challenge - Fulton County
On Feb. 24, ECOs Scott Pierce and Jason Hilliard were on patrol at the annual Walleye Challenge Ice Fishing Tournament on the Great Sacandaga Lake in Fulton County when the officers came upon an ice shanty and two fishermen. A small opening in the ice had been dug next to the shanty to form a livewell, and a number of walleye and perch were stored there. Some fish were alive and others were not. ECO Pierce counted 13 walleye in the pool of water, which put the two fishermen over the daily limit of walleye. The fishermen said they were going to release the extra walleye after the tournament. ECOs Pierce Hilliard asked the fishermen to release the five live walleye back to the lake. The fishermen were charged with taking and possessing in excess of the daily limit of walleye.
ECO Pierce at the makeshift livewell
Bronx Scrapyard Fire - Bronx County
On Feb. 26, ECOs Ryan Kelley and Shane Dobies received a call concerning a large fire at a scrapyard bordering the Harlem River. ECOs and staff from DEC Spills Response unit responded to the scene of the fire to investigate potential environmental impacts on the surrounding area. The New York City Fire Department had the fire contained and the flames extinguished. After interviewing the scrapyard owner and watching security camera footage, the officers determined that the fire was started by a large spark when metal was being crushed and separated using heavy machinery. The incident is still under investigation and no charges have been issued at this point.
FDNY boat extinguishing the scrapyard fire
Dog Mistaken for Coyote - Tompkins County
On Feb. 26, ECO Jeffrey Krueger concluded an investigation by charging two coyote hunters with several ECL violations after New York State Police contacted ECO Krueger regarding a family dog shot by coyote hunters after dark on Feb. 21. The two hunters had been traveling to a hunting location in the town of Groton when one hunter saw what he believed to be the eyes of a coyote in a field and asked the driver to stop. The passenger loaded his rifle with one round, walked to a gated fence, and shot into the field. The driver then went to look for the coyote and pulled into a nearby driveway, where he discovered they had actually shot the resident's dog. A State Trooper responded, conducted initial interviews, and turned the case over to ECO Krueger, who found evidence indicating that shots had been fired within 500 feet of the complainant's home and that the area was posted property. After determining that the dog, transported to Cornell Animal Hospital the night of the incident, was expected to recover, the ECO contacted the hunters and had them meet him at State Police Barracks in Dryden. Both hunters were cooperative and provided written statements. The driver, a Cortland resident, was charged with operating an artificial light with an unsecured gun in a motor vehicle. The shooter, also from Cortland, was charged with operating an artificial light with an unsecured gun in a motor vehicle, shooting within 500 feet of a dwelling, and trespassing on posted property. Both will be answering charges in the Town of Dryden Court.
Batting Cage Buck - Richmond County
On Feb. 26, ECOs Mary Grose and Taylor Della Rocco received a call that a deer was tangled in a net at Wagner College on Staten Island. The officers arrived and found a young buck entangled in a softball batting cage net. White Buffalo Inc., was contacted for assistance and tranquilized the buck. After the deer was sedated, the ECOs removed the net and the deer was evaluated. Once the sedation wore off, the otherwise healthy buck returned to the woods on the college grounds.
Buck entangled in netting at Wagner College
ECO Della Rocco with the sedated buck
Rescued Bald Eagle - Rockland County
On Feb. 27, ECO Jon Walraven received a call about a possibly injured bald eagle in the hamlet of West Nyack. The eagle did not have any obvious physical wounds but had taken shelter under a tree in a hedge row and would not fly. ECO Walraven contacted a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to assist him in successfully capturing the eagle and transporting it to a veterinarian for further medical diagnosis. The eagle has since responded well to treatment and will be released once it is at full strength.
Bald eagle at the veterinary facility