DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-May

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:

Wounded Warriors Turkey Hunt - St. Lawrence County
From May 14 to 16, ECO Joel Schneller worked with Jeep Sullivan's Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures to help provide an all-inclusive guided turkey hunt and walleye fishing trip for six combat-wounded veterans from all over the country. A number of other local sportsmen and businesses volunteered for the event and the veterans each harvested at least one bird. All of the meals, licenses, airfare, lodging, and hunting land were provided through generous donations from local businesses and Jeep Sullivan's Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures organization.

ECO and a man posing for a photo with a large turkey they hunted down.
ECO Schneller and veteran enjoyed successful turkey hunt

Illegal Hunting in a State Park - Rensselaer County
On May 17, ECO Brian Canzeri received a call concerning possible illegal hunting in Grafton Lakes State Park. While ECO Canzeri was en route to the site, he contacted New York State Park Police and Rensselaer County Sheriff's Deputies to help track down the suspect. When ECO Canzeri arrived at the park, the assisting officers had stopped the suspect vehicle as it was leaving the park. Interviews and an investigation revealed that two suspects had been hunting turkeys after legal hunting hours and shooting at song birds. Multiple tickets were issued, and the case is pending in the Town of Grafton Court.

Beached Basking Shark Recovery - Suffolk County
On May 17 and 18, ECOs Ike Bobseine, Evan Laczi, Jordan Doroski, and Rob McCabe assisted in the difficult recovery and necropsy of a dead Basking Shark on the beach near Southampton Village. Soft sand and six-foot waves made the 26-foot-long, 10,000-pound animal difficult to move, but the officers attached a rope to its tail and brought the animal away from the shoreline. The Southampton Village Highway Department assisted in moving the shark with a payloader. Once it was onshore, ECOs McCabe and Bobseine helped perform a necropsy and collect samples to share with marine research partners. The ECOs then removed the shark's fins to prevent their potential sale on the black market, and the animal was buried.

ECOs standing on a shoreline on the ocean with a large hook, attempting to bring in a dead shark.

Dead shark on the beach that was roped in by ECOs.
(top) ECOs working to attach rope to the shark (bottom) The shark on shore

Turkey Hunter Charged - Essex County
On the morning of May 18, ECO Jeff Hovey responded to assist an off-duty DLE member who caught two subjects involved with the illegal taking of a turkey in the town of Chesterfield. The off-duty officer was at his own residence when he heard four gunshots close by. A short time later, the officer found two turkey hunters set up with decoys on state land adjacent to his property. The hunters were in possession of an untagged turkey and were still hunting. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the hunter who had taken the turkey had shot it within 500 feet of the officer's house. The hunter who harvested the turkey was issued tickets for failure to tag a turkey carcass as required and discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. The turkey carcass was seized as evidence and the charges are pending in the Town of Chesterfield Court.

Loons in the Road - Niagara and Broome Counties
While on patrol on May 18, ECOs Shea Mathis and George Scheer came across a vehicle parked sideways across a roadway in the town of Wheatfield. The driver said that he was trying to prevent traffic from hitting a loon sitting in the roadway. The ECOs thanked the good Samaritan, blocked traffic with their patrol vehicle, and safely captured the loon. The loon appeared to be malnourished and was transported to a local wildlife rehabilitator for treatment. On May 21, ECO Eric Templeton responded to a report of a loon on a road that may have been struck by a vehicle in the town of Maine. ECO Templeton captured the bird and transported it to the Janet Swanson Wildlife Clinic at Cornell University in Ithaca. The veterinarian prescribed supportive care with subcutaneous fluids and antibiotics and the bird was dewormed. On May 23, ECO Templeton received word that the bird was back to full health. He picked up the loon and brought it to a watershed near where it had been found. He released the bird and it swam away.

ECO approaching a loon that is lying down in the middle of the road

ECO holding a loon that has been wrapped in a towel
ECOs Mathis and Templeton with the malnourished loons

Long Island Sound Rescue - Suffolk County
On May 19, ECO Rob McCabe heard a call on the Riverhead Police radio channel that a kayak with one adult male and two children was stranded in the waters of Long Island Sound off a local beach. McCabe responded to the beach and assisted Riverhead Town Police in locating the kayak, which was approximately two miles off shore. Using a spotting scope, ECO McCabe determined the two children were still in the kayak but the adult was in the water holding onto it. Wading River Fire Department and Riverhead Fire Department quickly responded with vessels to retrieve the individuals from the water. Fortunately, all three kayakers were wearing personal floatation devices and no one was seriously injured.

Orphaned Foxes - Niagara County
On May 21, ECO Kevin Holzle responded to a call from Wild Critters of Niagara County about fox pups on the Niagara County Community College Campus in the town of Cambria. The mother had been struck by a vehicle and killed, leaving the young pups orphaned. ECO Holzle assisted Wild Critters of Niagara County, who had placed the fox pups between two large shipping containers. It was a challenge to catch them in the narrow space between the shipping containers, but ECO Holzle and Wild Critters staff succeeded by using a combination of a catch pole from the top and a net on the ground. Wild Critters will care for the pups until they are ready to be released back into the wild.

tiny fox pups seen in a small space between two red shipping containers

ECO standing in front of his vehicle, posing for a photo with one of the fox pups in his hands.
Fox pups between containers and ECO Holzle with one of the pups

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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