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 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State. 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.

"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).

Playing Chicken - Putnam County
While on patrol on July 26, ECO Crisafulli received a call for a hawk in distress at a residence in the village of Brewster. The ECO met with the homeowner and found the hawk stuck in a chicken coop where it was being attacked by some of the chickens. Officer Crisafulli safely rescued the Red-Shouldered Hawk, which did not appear to sustain any apparent injuries. Following the incident, the ECO released the hawk and it flew away.

ECO holding hawk in a towel before release
ECO Crisafulli prepares to release hawk back into the wild

Lake House Explosion - Herkimer County
On July 30, ECO Gates responded to a house explosion in the town of Webb. The blast sent debris flying more than 200 yards into First Lake on the Fulton Chain, impacting an estimated 20 homes in the surrounding area. Herkimer County soon declared a State of Emergency. ECO Gates, accompanied by ECO Jakaub and DEC Spill Responder Reichinger, deployed a boat to help assess the damage and look for debris in the lake. Some fuel entered the lake, causing a sheen, and the ECOs assisted Reichinger to deploy a boom designed to pick up the oil. The following day, the Officers joined DEC Spill Responder Furlong to coordinate the use of a harbor boom from Eggan Environmental Services. The ECOs assisted Old Forge Fire Department and Eggan Environmental Services with deployment of the harbor boom using a patrol boat. The boom will contain the spill and allow crews to remove the fuel from the surface so it would not enter the greater lake.

ECO on boat putting large floating boom in the water
ECO Noyes deploys boom

Debris along shoreline and in water from house explosion
House explosion in Herkimer County

National Night Out - Albany County
On Aug. 3, ECO Bevis participated in the town of Guilderland's National Night Out at Tawasentha Park, an annual community outreach event held by area first responders. Children and adults enjoyed hearing ECO Bevis discuss some of the many wildlife species found locally and learning about the important jobs ECOs perform across the state.

ECO talking to kids outside at an informational table
ECO Bevis discussing wildlife with children attending Guilderland's National Night Out

Righting the Ship - Ulster County
On Aug. 4, while on patrol in Ulster County, ECO Chomicki responded to a 911 call for an overturned kayaker unable to swim near the DEC boat launch on Chodikee Lake in the town of Lloyd. Upon arrival, ECO Chomicki grabbed a life jacket and throw rope and headed to the launch. Once at the water, the ECO and a Police Officer from the town of Lloyd borrowed two kayaks from recreators and paddled out to the man. The Officers found the 72-year-old Staten Island man standing on a rock holding onto his kayak for balance. Although the man was wearing a life jacket, it was not properly secured, rendering it ineffective. After removing some water, the Officers returned the kayaker to his kayak and towed him back to the boat launch where he was evaluated by medical personnel. Additional responders included the New York State Police, Ulster County Sheriff's Department, Ulster County Sheriff's Dive Team, Highland Fire Department, Ulster Hose Dive Team, and Mobile Life Ambulance Services.

Two ECOs in two red kayaks pulling a third kayaker to shore
Kayaker towed back to boat launch

Uncovered and Wanted - Onondaga County
On Aug. 5, ECO Damrath received a complaint from the scale operator at the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) indicating commercial waste haulers were attempting to avoid higher, commercial tipping fees by offloading at OCCRA's residential drop-off site in the town of Salina. The scale operator advised that many of the loads had been transported without covers, causing trash to blow into the road and Ley Creek, a tributary to Onondaga Lake. ECO Damrath responded to the Ley Creek facility and soon observed a waste hauler missing what turned out to be more than just a tarp. When the ECO stopped the truck for hauling an uncovered load of construction and demolition debris and municipal solid waste, the driver could not produce a valid driver license. A subsequent warrant check found the driver was wanted for assault by the State University of New York (SUNY) Police. ECO Damrath arrested the subject and charged him with transporting an uncovered load of solid waste and operating without a license. The ECO then turned him over to the SUNY Upstate Medical University Police on the assault warrant.

trailer with trash in it
Uncovered load of C&D and municipal solid waste intercepted by ECO Damrath

NASCAR Patrol - Schuyler County
On Aug. 8, Region 8 ECOs Farrand, Dussault, and Gross assisted New York State Police Troopers with traffic control and incident response for a NASCAR event at the Watkins Glen International Raceway in Schuyler County. The ECOs utilized UTVs and ATVs at fixed traffic points and roving patrols. The event concluded without major incidents, including during the heavy post-race traffic.

ECO on ATV behind bleachers at racetrack
ECO Gross on ATV at the detail

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again - Sullivan County
On Aug. 8, ECO DuChene responded to an osprey in distress in the town of Fallsburg. Upon the Officer's arrival, she was met by several concerned local residents to assist with locating the young osprey. Working together, the osprey was successfully captured for closer observation. Missy Runyan at the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center in the town of Hunter helped assess the extent of injuries and determined the fledgling was simply an unskilled flyer and took a tumble into the water. The bird was returned to the shoreline to reunite with its parents in a nearby nest. Thanks to ECO DuChene, the responding residents had the chance to get up close and personal with their very first osprey.

ECO holding large bird
ECO DuChene with fledgling osprey

Illegal Halloween Buck - Greene County
On Aug. 9, ECO Palmateer concluded an illegal deer case in the town of Coxsackie. On Halloween Day during bow season, Officer Palmateer received a report from a concerned bow hunter that two subjects were observed shooting a buck with a rifle. ECO Palmateer contacted ECO Smith requesting assistance with the complaint, and the Officers interviewed the complainant who recalled seeing the two subjects walking through the woods, one of them carrying a long gun. A short time later, the complainant reported hearing two gunshots and observing the subjects dragging a buck through the woods. After obtaining the vehicle registration from the complainant, the Officers conducted an investigation, which led them to six different residences across Ulster, Greene, and Albany counties. The vehicle was improperly registered, preventing the ECOs from pinpointing its location. After interviewing multiple parties, taking statements, and following leads, the ECOs determined the deer was at a residence in the hamlet of Earlton in the town of Coxsackie. At this location, the Officers observed an eight-point buck hanging and two men standing next to it. After interviewing the subjects, the ECOs discovered the buck was shot by a subject who already harvested a buck during bow season, but tagged it with someone else's tag. The deer was wounded by an arrow on the previous evening and the two men returned to the woods the following day to shoot it with the rifle. ECO Palmateer ticketed the subject who illegally harvested the buck for multiple violations of Environmental Conservation Law. That subject paid $1,000 in fines. The Officers seized the deer and transported it to DEC's Wildlife Health Lab. ECO Smith ticketed two other subjects for lending tags to another and accessory to the illegal take of whitetail deer. These charges are still pending in court.

Two ECOs at back of their vehicle with the confiscated buck
ECOs Smith and Palmateer with illegally killed buck

Running Down Geese - Niagara County
On Aug. 11, ECOs in Niagara County received a call from the town of Newfane marina reporting a van had intentionally run into a flock of geese. Security camera footage from the night in question showed the van illuminate the flock of geese with headlights and accelerate into them, killing two of the birds. ECO Holzle tracked down the driver and ticketed the subject for the illegal take of protected wildlife and taking migratory game birds with the use of a motor vehicle.

security camera still of van running over geese
Van accelerating through flock of geese

Dangerous Turtle - Suffolk County
On Aug. 11, ECO DeRose responded to assist Suffolk County Police with a 911 call for a 'dangerous turtle' in the garden of a residence. Upon arrival, ECO DeRose determined it was a large native snapping turtle with a shell almost 18 inches long. ECO DeRose, along with Suffolk County Police, safely removed the turtle and transported it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for evaluation. After it was determined to be in good health, they released the snapping turtle into a local pond.

Large turtle in tall grass

ECO releasing turtle into water
Snapping turtle caught in garden and released in pond

Turtle Washes Up - Suffolk County
On Aug. 14, ECO DeRose received a call from the town of Islip regarding a sea turtle that washed up on shore adjacent to a local fishing dock. ECOs DeRose and Perkins responded, meeting with an Atlantic Marine Conservation Society biologist. The responders determined it was a loggerhead sea turtle, a threatened species in New York. The sea turtle had been killed by multiple boat strikes. Tissue samples and measurements were taken of the deceased loggerhead for research purposes, but the washed-up turtle serves as a reminder to be safe while boating and always be aware of potential wildlife that may be swimming close to the surface of the water.

Large, deceased turtle in the sand
Turtle hit by several boats washes up in Suffolk County

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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