DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late May to Early June

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, 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 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:

Digging up Trouble in the East River - New York County
On May 24, ECO Joshua Harvey received an anonymous complaint reporting a crane being operated in the East River without booms in the water. ECOs Harvey and Brendan Dickson responded to the site and observed the crane dredging material. The ECOs signaled to the crew to cease work while the officers checked to see if the workers had the proper permits and pollution control measures in place. No booms were being used, resulting in increased turbidity and floating hazards in the waterway. Upon further investigation, the ECOs found that the managing company had received some permits to perform work in the river, but had not received the required DEC permit to dredge with a bucket. Dickson and Harvey issued a total of eight tickets returnable in New York County Court.

Pig Manure Dumped on Banks of West Canada Creek - Herkimer County
On May 29, during an off-duty kayak trip, ECO Katie Jakaub came across animal waste mixed with sawdust along the bank of the West Canada Creek, a protected trout stream, in the town of Russia. ECO Jakaub noted the location and visited the property the following day. The landowner informed the ECO that pigs were on the property and that what the officer had found was the manure and straw bedding that had been dumped during the winter. The landowner admitted to depositing the waste and was issued summonses for the offense, returnable in Town of Russia Court.
The disposal site from the bank
The disposal site from the bank

Captive Fawns - Sullivan County
On May 31, ECO Mary Grose investigated a complaint regarding fawns being kept at a residence in Bloomingburg. ECO Grose visited the residence and found two fawns in a small, fenced enclosure in the back yard. The homeowner stated he captured the fawns because he thought they were hurt and hungry. The fawns were determined to be in good health, and the ECO contacted a local wildlife rehabilitator. The fawns had only been in captivity for a short time and their mother was spotted nearby. The fawns were released. Grose visited the homeowner the following day and issued a summons for illegal possession of wildlife, returnable in Village of Bloomingburg Court in July. The fawns were spotted reunited with their mother.
Two fawns before release
Two fawns before release

Rat Snake in the House - Ulster County
On June 2, ECO Jason Smith received a call from the Ulster Police Department regarding a large snake inside a residence. ECO Smith responded to the location and met with an Ulster police officer and the homeowners, who reported seeing the snake in their bathroom. After a brief search, the snake, a 6-foot, 6-inch black rat snake, was located in a spare room under a piece of furniture. ECO Smith coaxed the snake into a pet carrier and transported it to a nearby state forest for release. The black rat snake, a constrictor that feeds primarily on small rodents, is the longest snake found in New York State and is relatively common throughout Ulster County.
Black rat snake removed from Ulster home
Black rat snake removed from Ulster home

I Fish NY & Outdoors Adventure Day - Richmond County
On June 2, ECOs Connor Dodge and Dustin Osborne attended the "I Fish NY" event at Willowbrook Park Lake on Staten Island. The event was part of Outdoors Day, where multiple agencies including DEC, NYC Parks, and volunteers offered a variety of outdoor activities for people of all ages and abilities. The activities included canoeing, archery, birds of prey, fishing, birdwatching, container seed gardening, and more. ECOs and DEC Fisheries Staff conducted a free fishing clinic where they instructed children how to fish properly, ethically, and safely.
Fishing clinic at Willowbrook Park Lake
Fishing clinic at Willowbrook Park Lake

Release of the Rescued Merlin - Cattaraugus County
On April 18, ECO Robert Nosal responded to a complaint of an injured hawk in the yard of a residence in Randolph. ECO Nosal found the injured merlin, a small falcon slightly larger than an American kestrel, thrashing in some brush. The ECO captured the merlin and transported the bird to the Erie County SPCA, where it was X-rayed and determined to have a broken wing. The merlin underwent surgery for the broken wing and on June 6, ECO Nosal received a call from the SPCA that it was ready to be released. ECO Nosal took the merlin to the same area where it had been captured and released it. The healthy bird immediately flew away.
ECO Nosal releasing the merlin
ECO Nosal releasing the merlin

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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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