DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early to Mid-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:

Assisting Individuals in Crisis - Franklin and Tompkins Counties
On June 6 at 9 p.m., New York State Police in Malone requested assistance from ECO Kevin Riggs to patrol a seasonal use road in the town of Waverly. Hunting club members had encountered a male subject sitting outside a camp asking for help. The subject had been reported missing the previous day. He had left his home on an ATV and became stranded in the woods before walking to the camp. ECO Riggs and Trooper Nathan Larock located the subject and transported him to a main road, where EMS responders transported him to a medical facility. On June 8, ECO Osman Eisenberg responded to a NYS Parks Police Dispatch call concerning a possible suicidal subject at the Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca. ECO Eisenberg and a Parks Officer located and interviewed the subject, who was then transported without incident to Cayuga Medical Center for evaluation.

Senseless Shooting of a Bear - Lewis County
On June 6, Lewis County 911 received a call from a female resident in the town of Watson reporting a bear in a tree in her front yard. Lewis County contacted DEC Central Dispatch. DEC directed Lewis County to advise the caller to leave the bear alone and that it would most likely come down from the tree during the night and leave the area. The resident then contacted her boyfriend in Lowville, and advised him of the bear in the tree. The boyfriend returned home and shot the bear several times with a shotgun at about 12:15 a.m. The female resident then called Lewis County 911 and advised them that her boyfriend had killed the bear. Lewis County informed ECO Tim Worden about the incident. ECO Worden responded to the residence and found the dead adult female bear beneath the tree. The property had several bird seed and hummingbird feeders around the house, a common attractant for bears that should have been removed to minimize interest from bears in the area. The resident was advised to remove all food sources and the boyfriend was issued a ticket for taking a bear during the closed season. The bear was seized, and the case will be heard in Watson Town Court.

Four Days of Shellfish Enforcement - Kings and Queens Counties
On June 10, ECOs Connor Dodge and Zach Kochanowski observed an individual with a rake and a bag of clams walking off Plumb Beach. The man stated that the clams were from the waters of Rockaway Inlet, which is an uncertified area for taking clams. The man had a total of 74 quahog clams in the bag and was issued a summons for taking shellfish from uncertified waters.

On June 11, ECO Dodge patrolled the same area of Plumb Beach around the same time of day and observed a female subject digging for clams with a rake and shovel and placing them into a bag. When he started to approach the woman, she attempted to dump the clams, but 27 clams were recovered as evidence. Three summonses were issued for taking shellfish from uncertified waters, possession of shellfish taken from uncertified waters, and dumping shellfish upon signal to stop.

On June 12, ECO Dodge patrolled nearby Gerritsen Creek during low tide and once again observed two individuals fishing. One individual was also observed clamming. ECO Dodge noted the location of the men, drove to the opposite side of the creek, and hiked to the two individuals. The two men were found with two bags containing 86 quahog clams they had taken from the creek. ECO Dodge also found a string leading into the creek. When he pulled up the string, he found a small cage tied to it containing two undersized striped bass. The men were issued seven summonses for taking shellfish from uncertified waters, possession of shellfish taken from uncertified waters, possess undersized striped bass, and no marine registration.

Finally, on June 15, ECOs Sarah Barrett, Matthew Rutherford, and Matthew Thibodeau patrolled Jamaica Bay to check for people clamming during the early morning low tide. At approximately 4 a.m., the ECOs located two subjects in the shallows of Jamaica Bay, just south of Cross Bay Bridge. In plainclothes, ECO Rutherford made his way to the subjects to get a closer look at what they were up to. ECO Rutherford observed the two subjects with bins filled with blue crabs and clams as ECOs Barrett and Thibodeau watched nearby, waiting for Rutherford's signal to make contact with the subjects. The two were found to be in possession of 140 clams and 131 blue crabs. The clams and crabs were released back into the bay and a total of eight summonses were issued for taking shellfish from uncertified waters, taking shellfish at night, possessing undersized blue crabs, and possessing over the limit of blue crabs.

ECO Dodge with 86 illegal quahog clams and
ECO Dodge with 86 illegal quahog clams and
two illegal striped bass

ECOs Barrett, Rutherford and Thibodeau with seized
ECOs Barrett, Rutherford and Thibodeau with seized
clams and blue claw crabs

Mountain Lion For Sale - Queens County
On June 13, ECO Ryan Grogan contacted a seller advertising a full mountain lion mount for sale on Craigslist. The seller confirmed that the cougar was authentic and the price was $3,000. After agreeing to meet the seller at the storage unit that the piece was being kept, ECO Grogan arrived in plainclothes to contact the seller. Upon confirming that the mountain lion was legitimate, ECO Grogan informed the seller that he was an officer with the Environmental Conservation Police and that the sale of an endangered species valued at more than $1,500 is a felony in New York. The mountain lion mount was seized and transported to the Region 2 office. The seller was issued a Notice of Violation for the offense.

ECOs Connor Dodge, Ryan Grogan, and Zack
ECOs Connor Dodge, Ryan Grogan, and Zack
Kochanowski with the mountain lion mount

Orphaned Bear Cub - Orange County
On June 14, ECO Jon Walraven was contacted by the Warwick Police Department about a bear cub spotted near a heavily travelled road. ECO Walraven responded and was met on scene by Warwick police officers and the New York State Police. The officers were concerned because a larger bear had been killed the previous night in a motor vehicle accident and there was no sign of the mother bear near the cub. ECO Walraven and the officers attempted to capture the cub, but she successfully evaded their efforts and hid in a nearby wooded area. ECO Walraven contacted senior NYS DEC Wildlife Biologist Matt Merchant for assistance. Soon after Merchant arrived on scene, the bear cub was spotted making its way toward the road and the group was able to capture it. The cub was taken by DEC Wildlife staff to a licensed rehabilitator for care and eventual release back into the wild when she is older and stronger.

Bear cub headed to licensed
Bear cub headed to licensed
wildlife rehabilitator

Clamming Not Crabbing - Suffolk County
On June 23, ECO Chris DeRose observed three males wading in the waters of the Great South Bay, north of the Ocean Parkway in the town of Babylon. The area is typically frequented by crabbers looking for blue claw crabs, but it seemed strange to ECO DeRose that the three men were crabbing since it is early in the season. After watching them for a short time, it became clear that the men were clamming, not crabbing, and the area is currently closed to taking any clams. After spotting the men pull up some clams, ECO DeRose approached them. The trio claimed to only have one bucket of clams, but a quick check led to a cooler with 150 hard clams, of which 25 were undersized. Each member of the party was charged with placing a rake in uncertified waters, taking hard clams from uncertified waters, and possessing undersized hard clams in excess of 10 percent of their take. All of the clams were seized and the summonses are returnable in First District Court in Suffolk County on August 1.

Illegal clams seized in Babylon
Illegal clams seized in Babylon

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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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