DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for 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:

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement - Westchester County
On June 5, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Kevin Wamsley joined the Lewisboro Police Department, the New York State Police (NYSP) Commercial Vehicle Unit, and the Westchester County Solid Waste Commission for a commercial vehicle inspection detail in Lewisboro. The ECOs inspected Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles (HDDVs), solid waste transporters, and lawn care companies for violations of the Environmental Conservation Law. ECOs issued six summonses for various violations including leaking exhaust, no HDDV emissions inspection, unlabeled pesticides containers, operating an unregistered pesticide business, and failure to display pesticide decals as required. All of the summonses are returnable to the Town of Lewisboro Court. On June 7, ECOs Charles Eyler and Dustin Dainack conducted a second commercial vehicle detail in Pound Ridge with the Westchester County Consumer Affairs, NYSP Commercial Vehicle Unit, and the Pound Ridge Police Department. The officers checked dozens of vehicles and wrote six additional summonses that included leaking exhaust, commercial vehicle emissions violations, and depositing noisome and unwholesome substances on a public roadway.

Pesticide container on the pavement open
Pesticide violation found in Lewisboro
ECO Inspecting a tractor trailer
Inspecting a tractor trailer in Pound Ridge
Busy Day for Boat Patrol - Cayuga County
On June 6, ECOs Mark Colesante and Tim Brown conducted a boat patrol of the Seneca River. While ECO Colesante waited for ECO Brown at the boat lauch, he checked several people fishing from the shore. One woman had 64 sunfish and bluegills in her bucket, 14 over the daily limit. Her husband was found with fish under the limit. However, when ECO Colesante checked the trunk of their vehicle, he discovered more sunfish and bluegills in a cooler mixed with carp and catfish. Overall, the two fishermen were in possession of 134 sunfish. By then, ECO Brown had arrived. He and ECO Colesante issued each angler tickets for taking over the daily limit of sunfish and bluegills. Later that same day, ECO Colesante watched two men using what he believed to be spear guns on the Owasco Outlet at Emerson Park. The ECO approached the two fishermen as they pulled their kayaks up on shore and both men admitted to using sling spears to take fish. The pair had not been successful, but it is unlawful to use sling spears in New York State for freshwater fishing. The two fishermen were issued tickets for fishing by means other than angling.

a pile of panfish laying on the ground
Over the limit of panfish
Yellow slink spears propped up against a boat
Sling spears used unlawfully for fishing
Fawn First Aid - Onondaga County
On June 7, ECO Rick Head responded to a call on the east side of Syracuse regarding an injured fawn. When ECO Head arrived, he found a young fawn with a serious cut to the right front shoulder. The fawn was bedded down closely to second uninjured fawn. On the advice of a local wildlife rehabilitator, the officer captured the injured deer and brought it to the Marcellus Veterinary Clinic, where Dr. Steven Bruck sutured the wound. Following treatment, the ECO released the young deer back to the original location, close to its sibling and mother.

Orient Point Radiation Detection Detail - Suffolk County
On June 7, Lt. Tom Gadomski, along with ECOs Chris DeRose and K-9 Cramer, Chris Amato, Ike Bobseine, Evan Laczi, and Rob McCabe participated in a multiagency radiation screening detail at the Cross-Sound Ferry in Orient Point. The ECOs worked with NYSP, Southold Police, Suffolk County Detectives, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to screen vehicles and people traveling aboard the ferries. The ECOs screened hundreds of vehicles using Radiation Isotope Identifiers, PackEye Radiation Detection, and Personal Radiation Detection. TSA organized the detail to proactively identify any potentially dangerous radioactive substances being illegally transported. No illegal radioactive sources were located during the detail.

ECO's and Coast Guard members on a ferry
ECOs and U.S. Coast Guard members at the Cross-Sound Ferry in Orient Point
Short Sea Bass - Bronx County
On June 7, ECOs Ryan Grogan, Max Woyton, and Matt Rutherford performed a joint inspection of the Fulton Fish Market in Bronx County with federal agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). During the inspection of one commercial seller, officers found a shipment of Black Sea Bass that contained numerous undersized fish. After sorting through the fish, 74 Black Sea Bass were seized for being under the commercial size limit of 11 inches. The case is being handled administratively by DEC Division of Law Enforcement. If the case goes to criminal court, the company could face federal charges for Lacey Act violations.

Undersized Black Sea Bass in a cardboard box
Short Black Sea Bass seized at Fulton Fish Market
Belligerent Fisherman Charged - Madison County
On June 8, ECO Harry Chase responded to a complaint by a landowner in the city of Oneida requesting that a fisherman be arrested for trespassing after he was found fishing in the creek behind the caller's house earlier in the day. The property is legally posted, and for the past 20 years fisherman have left the area when asked. This time, the fishermen became belligerent, used profanity, and refused to leave. Oneida City Police initially responded, identified the subject, and contacted ECO Chase. The fisherman was issued two tickets. In addition to the trespassing charge, ECO Chase discovered the subject had not renewed his fishing license since 2015.

Strange Rattle in the Engine - Delaware County
On June 11, Lt. Nate Ver Hague and ECO Mark Vencak responded to a complaint of a rattlesnake resting on an engine block in the town of Hancock. The complainant told them that he had opened the hood of his car to jump start the vehicle and heard the distinctive rattle of a snake. He backed away and saw a large rattlesnake resting in the center of the engine block. Disturbed, the snake slithered over to the battery and curled up there. The officers confirmed the snake was a timber rattlesnake seeking shelter. ECO Vencak carefully extracted the snake from the engine compartment as Lt. Ver Hague untangled the tail wrapped around part of the engine. The officers released the snake nearby, next to several large boulders - a much more snake-appropriate habitat.

Timber rattlesnake curled up on a car batttery in engine compartment
Timber Rattlesnake resting on car battery

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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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