DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Late November

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), 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:

Tip Leads to Seizure of Multiple Big Bucks - Sullivan County
On Nov. 20, ECO Ricky Wood received a tip that a hunter had shot two bucks on the opening weekend of rifle season in Sullivan County. ECO Wood and State Trooper D'Angelo interviewed the suspect, who claimed that he had only shot one buck and provided ECO Wood with the exact location. ECO Wood and D'Angelo then hiked several miles into the property, where they observed another hunter's vehicle. ECO Wood deployed K-9 Deming, who successfully tracked several miles to a baited treestand occupied by a hunter. Another hunter was located a short distance away. Through extensive interviews, the officers determined that four large bucks had been shot on the baited property in the past few days. All four were later found hanging at a hunting camp in the town of Thompson. ECO Wood contacted ECOs Tom Koepf and Corey Hornicek along with State Troopers Drown and Reimer for assistance in the investigation. One of the hunters who smelled strongly of alcohol failed field sobriety tests and a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Koepf and Drown processed this hunter at the State Police Barracks in Liberty, where he registered a .12-percent Blood Alcohol Content. That hunter was charged with hunting while intoxicated and two counts of hunting deer with the aid of bait, possessing tags of another hunter, and illegal taking of protected wildlife for the buck he had shot a day earlier on the baited property. Wood, Hornicek, D'Angelo and Reimer conducted multiple interviews that confirmed that all of the bucks had been killed with the aid of bait. All four deer were seized, and six more tickets were issued to the hunters at the camp for hunting deer with the aid of bait and illegal take of protected wildlife. All the charges are returnable to the Town of Forestburgh Court.

NYS Troopers and ECOs with deer on back of truck
From left to right: Trooper D'Angelo, ECOs Wood, Koepf, Hornicek, and Trooper Reimer with illegally taken bucks.

Deer Jacking - Ulster County
On Nov. 20 at approximately 2:30 a.m., ECO Lucas Palmateer was contacted by the New Paltz Police Department about a shot being fired on Plutarch Road. A NPPD officer had responded to the scene and located a vehicle shining a light into the woods. He stopped the vehicle and interviewed the driver. The driver admitted to taking a shot at a deer, but wasn't sure if he hit it. A large 9-point buck was located deceased 30 yards from the road. The driver told ECO Palmateer that he knew there was a big buck in the area, so he just couldn't resist and went out that night to try to shoot it, firing a .30-06 rifle from his vehicle when he spotted it. The subject was charged with five misdemeanors, including discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, illegal taking of protected wildlife, taking deer with the aid of artificial light, discharge of a firearm from a public highway, and possessing a loaded firearm and artificial light in a motor vehicle. Two violations were also issued, hunting big game with the aid of a motor vehicle and using artificial light within 500 feet of a dwelling. The light, gun and deer were seized as evidence and the case will be heard in the Town of New Paltz Court.

ECOs with deer on back of truck
New Paltz Police Officer Knoth and ECO Palmateer with the 9-point buck.

Know Your Surroundings - Ulster County
On Nov. 21, ECO Lucas Palmateer was contacted by a complainant who stated that an individual had shot a deer on their front lawn in the town of Rosendale the previous evening. The complainants had heard a loud gunshot, looked out their window and saw a large buck collapse on their front lawn. ECO Palmateer located a blood trail, determined the location that the deer had been shot from and who the possible responsible party was. The suspect told ECO Palmateer that he had permission to hunt in a 1.5-acre property next to the home where the deer had been shot. He stated that he was sitting on a rock wall, approximately 375 feet from the neighboring house, when he saw a buck cross a road and make its way onto the neighboring property when he shot. ECOs Adam Johnson and Ricky Wood assisted with the investigation on Nov. 23. The subject was issued tickets for discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling and illegal taking of protected wildlife, returnable to the Town of Rosendale Court. The large 10-point buck was seized as evidence, and the meat was given to the venison donation program.

ECO holding deer by antlers on back of vehicle
ECO Palmateer with trophy buck taken illegally.

Thanksgiving Confession - Essex County
On the evening of Nov. 21, ECO Maxwell Nicols received a report of hunters trespassing, firing two shots and killing an antlerless deer on private property in the town of Schroon. ECO Nicols arrived to find numerous footprints entering the woods off Letsonville Road and crossing two separate posted properties. ECO Matt Lacroix with K-9 Diesel were contacted to assist with the investigation. Two .30-06 shell casings were quickly located by K-9 Diesel, identifying the caliber and location the shots had come from. On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, ECO Nicols questioned a subject who had been seen at the scene of the complaint the previous day. With mounting evidence, he gave a confession and was charged with trespassing on posted land, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and the illegal take of the antlerless deer. The case will be heard in the Town of Schroon Court, and the deer was seized and donated to the venison donation program.

ECOs with button buck on back of truck
ECOs Nicols, Lacroix, and K-9 Diesel with illegally taken button buck.

"Hey Dad, you forgot something?" - Suffolk County
Thanksgiving morning turned into a busy day for ECO Mark Simmons thanks to a family member. After a relatively quiet morning patrolling for the opener of waterfowl season, ECO Simmons was reminded by his son, ECO Landon Simmons, about a bait pile in Manorville discovered earlier that month. As it was a perfect Thanksgiving morning to hunt, the elder ECO headed to the baited stand location. The stand was occupied and positioned close to piles of corn, grain, and mineral blocks. ECO Simmons directed the hunter to un-nock his arrow and lower his bow, but was surprised when, upon closer inspection, it was a crossbow he was holding. The hunter was issued tickets for hunting over bait and hunting deer with an illegal implement. ECO Simmons thanked his son later that day for convincing him to check the stand.

The Undead Deer - Albany County
On Thanksgiving night, Nov. 22, ECO Brian Canzeri responded to assist Albany County Sheriff's Deputies in the town of Berne who had stopped a pick-up truck with two occupants. A witness spotted them shoot from the truck and then drive off. Fresh blood on the tailgate, rear bumper and floormats of the truck, along with hunting attire, rifles and spotlights inside the truck supported information from the witness. ECO Canzeri obtained statements from both suspects about the evening's events. While driving on Bradt Hollow Road, a 4-point buck had run in front of the suspect's vehicle. The passenger shot out of the driver's side window, hitting the deer. Both subjects then loaded the deer in the back of the pickup and drove off. However, the deer was not dead and approximately a mile down the road the deer jumped out of the bed of the truck. They turned around to look for animal and were stopped by Deputies as they tried to flee. The wounded deer was located soon after and put down. ECO Canzeri seized two rifles and two spotlights. Both suspects had suspended drivers licenses. One had an arrest warrant pending and the other had past hunting violations in Washington County, including taking deer with the aid of an artificial light as well as an order of protection prohibiting him from possession of firearms. On Nov. 24, three more dead deer were found in the area with evidence showing that they were connected to the men. ECO Canzeri issued tickets to both subjects for taking big game deer with the aid of light, shooting within 500 feet of a dwelling, discharging from a public road, loaded gun in a motor vehicle, taking by means not specified, and taking deer from a motor vehicle. Additional charges may be filed.

ECO with buck and rifles on back of truck
ECO Canzeri with evidence seized in Berne.

Not a White Tail - Cattaraugus County
On Nov. 25, Lt. Don Pleakis, ECOs Jason Powers, Nate Mead and Wildlife Biologist Ryan Rockefeller responded to a report of a red deer taken in the town of Franklinville. DLE and the Division of Wildlife had received reports that there was a red deer, a species not native to New York, living in the wild in that area. New York's Department of Agriculture and Markets had attempted to locate the owner unsuccessfully. On Nov. 23, a 16-year-old female shot her first deer, an unusually large doe. The family field dressed it, transported it to their residence in Farmersville, and called ECO Jason Powers when they became suspicious of the animal. The officers confirmed the doe to be a red deer, weighing roughly 175 pounds.

Headlamps Lead the Way to Late Night Poaching - Bronx County
On the evening of Nov. 25, ECOs Joshua Jarecki, Michael Wozniak, Zachary Kochanowski, and Connor Dodge conducted a marine fishing check near Pelham Bay Park. The ECOs split in two groups to check both sides of the bay simultaneously and observed multiple groups of fishermen wearing headlamps. The first group interviewed by ECO Jarecki claimed they had not caught any fish but ECO Dodge followed fresh boot prints that led to two hidden short striped bass. ECOs Wozniak and Kochanowski checked two groups of fishermen that had 11 short striped bass hanging on the fence of a landfill. Moving their patrol into the Rodman Neck area of Pelham Bay, ECOs observed two fishermen that were packing up their gear and getting ready to leave. The fishermen had two large garbage bags in their possession filled with 12 short striped bass. Over the course of the evening, a total of 25 illegal short striped bass were seized and 11 summonses were issued. The striped bass were seized and donated to the Bowery Mission, which serves the homeless in Manhattan.

ECOs with seized fish lined up behind vehicle
ECOs Joshua Jarecki, Michael Wozniak, Zachary Kochanowski and Connor Dodge with the 25 illegal striped bass.

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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