DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early March

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 2018, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 21,668 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 20,665 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, 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 DEC 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:

Career Day - Tioga County
On March 7, ECOs Brent Wilson and Andy Kostuk delivered presentations at the Spencer-Van Etten Middle School's Career Day, which introduces 7th and 8th grade students to various career fields. The ECOs spoke for about 20 minutes to four classes of approximately 15 students each. The officers described the day-to-day adventures of being an ECO, an overview on Environmental Conservation Law, and the role ECOs play in the protection and preservation of the state's natural resources.

Kids in a classroom with an ECO at the front of the room, giving a speech.
ECO Wilson speaks to Spencer-Van Etten Middle School
students about being an ECO

A Better Home for Turtles - New York County
On March 8, ECOs Jacob Jankowski and Michael Wozniak responded to a report that a two-foot-long, 50-pound snapping turtle was being kept illegally in poor conditions in a home in Manhattan. An elderly woman had taken the turtle in as a pet 20 years ago, and was no longer able to care for it. She had planned to have someone help her release the turtle into a nearby city pond. It is illegal to keep native wildlife without a permit from DEC. The officers also found four red-eared sliders, a semiaquatic turtle, living in plastic totes. Red-eared sliders are legal to possess in New York as pets and are commonly found in many pet stores. However, these turtles are an invasive species and should not be released into the wild. The ECOs gave the woman a warning and explained the laws regarding wildlife being kept as pets and releasing invasive species into the ecosystem. The turtles were seized and turned over to the Animal Care Centers of New York City, an adoption agency that takes in homeless and abandoned animals and works with wildlife refuges and rehabilitators to find homes for injured animals and other wildlife.

ECO Standing in the hallway of Animal Care Clinic hold a large snapping turtle by the shell
ECO Wozniak with snapping turtle

Fake Leopard but Real Crocodilian Pelt - Kings County
On March 9, ECOs Ryan Grogan and Josh Harvey set up a meeting with a subject offering leopard and crocodilian pelts for sale on Craigslist. After viewing the leopard pelts, ECO Grogan determined they were fake leopard skins. However, when asked if the crocodilian pelt was still available, the subject replied that it was, for $150. Upon viewing the pelt, the officers confirmed its authenticity and the seller was issued a summons for sale of endangered species without a permit. The pelt was confiscated.

Injured Bald Eagles - Delaware and Dutchess Counties
On March 10, ECO Nathan Doig received a call from NYC Department of Environmental Protection Officer Brad Sherburne reporting an injured bald eagle in Delaware County, close to the shore of the Cannonsville Reservoir in the town of Deposit. Working together, the officers captured the juvenile eagle, which was suffering from a broken wing. ECO Doig transported it to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for rehabilitation.

On March 16, ECO Zach Crain responded to a report of an injured bald eagle at a dairy farm in Dover Plains. With help from the farmer, ECO Crain captured the bird and transported it to Green Chimneys Wildlife and Education Center. The staff at Green Chimneys determined the eagle was a full-grown adult female at least five years old, which had likely suffered a fracture in its right wing. Both eagles will be cared for while they recover and will be released back into the wild when they regain full strength.

ECO standing next to truck holding an eagle upright by the feet.ECO cradling a bald eagle
ECOs Doig and Crain with injured bald eagles

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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