|New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Division of Law Enforcement enforces the 71 chapters of New York State's Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State. In 2020, 298 Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responded to 29,673 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 11,952 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations. Some of these incidents result in injuries, property damage, or even death, and starting this year, 'ECO Highlights' is transitioning to a new title, 'Environmental Conservation Police On Patrol.'
"DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Investigators are on the front lines each and every day to protect our natural resources by upholding New York's environmental laws and regulations and safeguarding public health," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "From ensuring hunters and anglers follow rules and regulations afield and on the water, to sustaining partnerships with local law enforcement agencies investigating crimes that include solid waste dumping and air emissions violations, ECOs and Investigators are on patrol, ready to serve their communities. Each year brings new challenges, and fortunately, these Officers and Investigators are expertly trained to perform their duties with persistence, integrity, and good judgment, as they've done for over a century."
Sub Sandwich Leads to Illegal Deer Charges - St. Lawrence County
On Nov. 9, ECO Atwood received a report of a possible deer jacking in the town of Edwards. Once on scene, the Officer collected a discarded sub sandwich bag and a trail cam picture of a suspect vehicle. ECO Atwood then visited a local store that sells sandwiches and obtained video that identified the vehicle and suspects. The ECO confronted the suspects with the evidence and the two individuals confessed to illegally taking a doe.
Empty sandwich bag found on scene of illegal deer take
Illegal Hunting from an ATV - Chautauqua County
On Nov. 21, ECOs Budniewski and Kinney received a complaint about an individual hunting from an ATV in the town of Ellery. After learning where the suspect would exit the woods, the ECOs waited in a hidden location. A short time later, the suspect exited with a deer, was questioned by the Officers, and admitted to shooting the buck from his ATV. The ECOs issued tickets to the hunter for taking an illegal deer, possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, using a motor vehicle to take wildlife, and possessing an untagged deer. One month later, the suspect appeared in court and paid more than $700 in civil penalties and faces revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years.
ECOs Conduct Hunting Enforcement Detail - Niagara County
During the early afternoon hours of Nov. 28 in the town of Royalton, ECOs Scheer, Wolgast, Holzle, Fonda, Godson, Fuerch, and K-9 Handley conducted an enforcement detail one week into the Southern Zone Regular Big Game Season. Officers observed a few Environmental Conservation Law violations during the detail, including three loaded firearms in motor vehicles, two untagged deer, and an individual failing to report a deer harvest within seven days. ECOs were pleased that the majority of the hunters followed all hunting regulations while afield and Officers were impressed by hunters' harvests and stories.
Tracks in the Snow Lead to Suspects in Illegal Deer Take - St. Lawrence County
On Nov. 29, ECO Jackson was patrolling an area in the town of Lorraine known for deer jacking. The Officer observed a spotlight in a field a short distance from his location and moments later, heard a single gunshot ring out from the same area. ECO Jackson rushed to the field, but the shooter took off into the woods. Lieutenant Bartoszewski responded to help ECO Jackson track down the culprits and identified two separate sets of shoe prints in the freshly fallen snow. They found a dead spike horn buck in the field. The Officers followed the tracks through the field and into a swamp where they made their way out of knee-deep water toward a roadway where the suspects were likely picked up by a vehicle. ECO Jackson, Lt. Bartoszewski, and Investigator Malone returned to the location over the next few days. After interviewing suspected poachers, two individuals confessed. The Officers seized the weapon used in the incident and issued appearance tickets to the shooter for the unlawful take of protected wildlife, taking whitetail deer with the aid of an artificial light, and hunting during closed hours. The case is pending in the Town of Lorraine Court.
Pennsylvania Violation - Chautauqua County
On Dec. 14, while checking several deer processors in Chautauqua County, ECO Kinney encountered a hunter who did not report his deer harvest. After speaking to the hunter, Officer Kinney learned the subject possessed a resident big game hunting license despite living in Pennsylvania. ECO Kinney cited the hunter for taking an illegal deer, making a false statement while applying for a license, and for being a non-resident hunting without a valid license during archery season. A week later, the man paid a $550 civil penalty for the violations.
Angels Project - St. Lawrence County
On Dec. 18, ECO Sherry assisted the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department with its annual Angels Project, which delivers Christmas gifts and food to families in the Morristown, Hammond, and Macomb areas. This year, the Officers delivered food packages to 41 families and Christmas gifts to 100 children. Assisting with the deliveries were members of the New York State Police, New York Park Police, U.S. Customs and Immigration, and the Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Department.
Toys delivered to children in St. Lawrence County via Angels Project