DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights
ECO Actions for Mid-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:
Injured Hawk – Rensselaer County
Heavy Duty Trucks Face Heavy Duty Fines – Bronx County
On March 13, ECOs in the Bronx conducted a truck detail specifically targeting heavy duty diesel vehicles (HDDV), checking to ensure these vehicles were following emissions standards, as well as targeting fluid leaks. The detail was a joint operation with DEC’s air quality staff, the State Department of Transportation, NYC Sanitation Police, and the New York Police Department Traffic Unit. Of the approximately 500 commercial vehicles inspected at the checkpoint, nine were placed out of service due to unsafe practices and six were towed due to faulty brakes and steering equipment. A total of 54 summonses were issued for return in Bronx Criminal Court later this year.
This Was No St. Patrick’s Prank – Warren County
Illegal Ivory is Not an Antique – New York County
On March 15, ECOs Joshua Harvey and Ryan Grogan were in plainclothes when they visited an antique shop on the Upper East Side and found two Buddha statues made of elephant ivory offered for sale. After Harvey expressed interest in the pieces, the shop owner offered an ivory wizard statue and two carved tusk pieces. ECO Harvey told the shop owner that he would return the following day. On March 16, ECO Harvey returned to the shop while ECO Grogan waited close by in uniform. After ECO Harvey offered $6,245 for all of the ivory pieces, ECO Grogan entered the shop, confiscated the ivory, and issued two summonses for illegal sale of ivory and commercialization of wildlife.
It is illegal to sell or attempt to sell products made in whole, or in part, from endangered and/or threatened species in the State of New York without obtaining a license. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced and signed a new law in 2014 that banned the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhinoceros horns and strengthened the criminal and civil penalties for buyers and sellers because their actions are contributing to the endangerment of elephant and rhinoceros populations worldwide.
Forensic Files, Wildlife Edition – Delaware County
Illegal Rhino Skull – Greene County
On March 25, ECOs and Investigators with the Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) unit conducted an undercover operation into the sale of a Black Rhino skull. A Greene County man who sold the skull to an undercover investigator was arrested and charged with illegal commercialization of wildlife. He is due back in court next month to answer to the charges. Black Rhinos are listed as critically endangered and it is illegal to sell any part of them under the New York State Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). It is estimated that somewhere between 5,000 and 5,500 Black Rhinos are left in the wild. The local case remains under investigation.