DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights
ECO Actions for Mid- to Late 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:
School Archery Tournament – Onondaga County
On March 15, ECOs Paul Sherman and Scott Yacavone assisted staff from the Division of Fish and Wildlife in hosting the 11th Annual National Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament. Nearly 600 students from 32 different schools across New York State attended the event at the NYS Fairgrounds Center of Progress Building. All of the participants have been involved with archery for at least one year and were excited to show off their skills to friends, coaches, and parents. The National Archery in the Schools Program uses archery instruction as a gateway to wildlife conservation and outdoor education. Having ECOs present provided an opportunity for students who are interested in shooting sports and outdoor recreation to interact with local officers and learn about the day-to-day aspects of being an ECO.
Something’s Fishy on Catharine Creek – Schuyler County
On March 16, ECO John Lifrieri was headed to a complaint in the town of Montour when he observed a pick-up truck parked at one of the access sites to Catharine Creek. As he looked closer, he saw two men near the stream, which is not uncommon this time of year as would-be anglers routinely check to see if spawning trout have begun to arrive. The stream is completely closed to fishing from the end of the year until April 1 to protect spawning fish. On this visit, however, Lifrieri found that that the two were fly fishing weeks before the season opens. Both were ticketed for fishing in closed trout waters, returnable to Montour Town Court.
ECOs Assist At Eighteenmile Creek Fish Sampling – Niagara County
On March 20, ECOs George Scheer and Kevin Holzle assisted DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries staff with a fish collection targeting rainbow trout (steelhead) in Eighteenmile Creek near Burt Dam in the town of Newfane. The fish were collected by electrofishing as part of a steelhead study in this popular tributary of Lake Ontario. Numerous residents and sportsmen were on hand to watch. Electrofishing is a common survey method biologists use to catch a large group of fish for sampling. Low level electricity is used to draw fish in, and there is no permanent harm done to the fish. The ECOs assisted with catching and packaging the fish collected so that they could be sent for laboratory analysis. ECOs and fisheries biologists often work together across the state on a variety of environmental work.
Injured Eagle – Sullivan County
On March 21, ECO Tom Koepf responded to a call about an injured bald eagle near the Delaware River in the town of Cochecton. The caller met Koepf at the site and helped secure the bird, a mature male eagle, which was then transported to DEC-licensed wildlife rehabilitator Missy Runyan, who found the bird to have an infection in its right wing. The bird is expected to survive with a round of rest and treatment.
Springtime Bobcat Activity – Rensselaer County
On March 22, ECO Brian Canzeri received a complaint about bobcats behind a residence in the town of Brunswick. ECO Canzeri met with the homeowners, who had several photos of the bobcats but were unsure if the sightings were cause for concern. While checking the area, ECO Canzeri observed a deer carcass the cats had been feeding on. He also found tracks and scat, and concluded the animals were a healthy, breeding pair of bobcats taking advantage of the deer carcass and the local squirrel population. The complainant was satisfied with his explanation of bobcat behavior and can look forward to the possibility of seeing kittens this spring.
Endicott Man Charged with Damaging Binghamton Flood Control Levees – Broome County
On March 27, Shayne A. Potter, 24, of Endicott was arraigned in Binghamton City Court and charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree, disturbing the banks of a protected stream without a permit, and excavating lands burdened by flood control easement without a permit. The charges resulted from his illegal excavation of flood control levees along the Susquehanna River while searching for antique bottles and artifacts he was selling online. ECOs began the investigation after DEC became aware of the illegal excavations, which compromised the structural integrity of the flood control levees and put citizens of the city and property at risk should the levees fail during a flood event. The DEC administers and maintains a series of flood control levees along the Susquehanna River and elsewhere in the state. In the spring of 2018, ECOs and DLE Investigators apprehended Potter as he entered the excavated area to begin additional excavation. Potter is accused of excavating nearly 90 cubic yards of soil, causing damage estimated at $7,385. The attorney representing Potter entered pleas of not guilty and the next trial date has not been set.
ECO Helps Bust Scrap Metal Thieves – Tioga County
On March 27, ECO Stanley Winnick assisted Tioga County Sheriff’s Deputies with the apprehension of two men involved in the larceny of scrap metal and “cold patch” road repair materials from the Town of Candor Highway Department. ECO Winnick was approached by the town’s highway superintendent regarding multiple thefts of scrap metal and cold patch from the highway department property. The thefts were occurring late at night and, knowing ECO Winnick lived nearby, the superintendent asked if he could help watch for suspicious activity. ECO Winnick set up a trail camera near the highway garage, and one night at 11:37 p.m., the trail camera sent a notification to the ECO’s cell phone. ECO Winnick contacted Tioga County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Henry and headed to the garage. The officer parked a short distance away and spotted two men shoveling cold patch into a black pickup truck. He alerted Deputy Henry, and when the thieves left the highway department property, the truck was stopped and both subjects were arrested. The driver of the truck was charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and operation of an unregistered motor vehicle. The passenger of the pickup truck was arrested for grand larceny in the fourth degree.
Assault at a Fishing Access Site – Greene County
On the evening of March 28, ECO Anthony Glorioso was on patrol in the town of Athens when he pulled in to check the Green Lake parking lot, a DEC fishing access site. He spotted two females by a vehicle. One of the women was stumbling around the vehicle, blood covering her face and clothes. ECO Glorioso quickly learned that an assault and robbery had taken place prior to his arrival. The victim said that she had been hit multiple times with a blunt object. ECO Glorioso radioed the New York State Police for assistance, rendered first aid, and kept the pressure on the wounds to the woman’s face. Troopers and DLE Lt. Kevin Beiter responded to the scene. The victim was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital for treatment. The State Police are investigating the robbery and assault.