DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early 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:

Speed Pollutes – Broome County
On May 1, Lt. Kenric Warner responded to a truck rollover on State Route 17 in the town of Windsor. A tractor trailer hauling residential household waste to the Seneca Meadows Landfill overturned on a bridge over Tuscarora Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River. Waste spilled over the bridge into the stream, onto the highway, and along the side of the highway. New York State Police (NYSP) found vehicle and traffic law violations and ticketed the driver for speeding and an unsafe lane change. ECO Eric Templeton followed up on the case and charged the driver with a misdemeanor, contravention of water quality standards based on negligent actions that resulted in the trash ending up in the stream. The case will be heard in Town of Windsor Court, and the ECL charge can result in fines ranging from $3,750 to $37,500 and/or up to one year in jail. John Okesson with DEC Spill Response was on scene to monitor the cleanup by National Response Corp. (NRC) out of Syracuse as NRC cleaned up the affected stream and banks. The New York State Department of Transportation helped remove the waste from the roadway.

Garbage and debris spread out on the ground, down an embankment and into a stream. Damaged tractor trailer in a field on the side of the road
Garbage in Tuscarora Creek and wrecked tractor trailer

 

Two Turkeys, Two States, Lots of Tickets – Rennselaer County


On May 3, ECO Brian Canzeri received a call about individuals hunting turkeys from the roads in the town of Petersburg along the Vermont border. ECO Canzeri located the suspects’ vehicle and followed it. ECO Canzeri stopped the vehicle and later determined that the father-and-son duo had shot a turkey from a road earlier in the day, trespassed on posted property to retrieve it, failed to tag it with New York tags, drove to Vermont to tag it with a Vermont tag, and came back into New York to continue hunting from roads. A second illegally possessed turkey was also found in the bed of the suspects’ pick-up truck. Vermont Game Wardens were notified, and officers met Canzeri and the subjects at the location to continue the investigation. The father and son were charged with more than a dozen violations of both New York and Vermont laws, and ECO Canzeri seized the birds and shotgun as evidence

ECO at the back of his vehicle with two turkeys and a large shotgun
ECO Canzeri with seized evidence

 

Illegal Commercialization of Wildlife – Dutchess County

On May 3, ECO Zachary Crain received a tip about a mountain lion taxidermy mount offered for sale on Craigslist in Wappingers Falls. A fellow ECO mentioned he had seen the mount in the storefront window of a business there, so ECO Crain visited the business and explained it is illegal to sell parts of certain wildlife in New York. The uncooperative employee insisted it wasn’t being offered for sale and any further questions would be answered by his brother, the owner of the store. Within minutes, ECO Crain noticed that the online posting had been deleted. ECO Crain contacted the owner, who is now facing charges of offering for sale any part of certain wild animals and illegal commercialization of wildlife. The owner was instructed not to sell or otherwise dispose of the mount while DEC’s enforcement case is ongoing.

 

A large, white, stuffed mountain lion in the front of a store window
Storefront Mountain Lion

 

All Tangled Up – Chenango County

On May 3, ECO Mary Grose responded to a call of a young red fox tangled in a soccer net at a daycare center in the town of Greene. ECO Grose, assisted by a New York State Trooper, untangled the young fox and, as it was otherwise uninjured and appeared healthy, released the kit into the nearby woods. The children at the daycare were excited about the opportunity to observe the young fox, witness the rescue, and listen to the guidance provided by ECO Grose regarding safety around wild animals.

 

A fox in a field that has been tangled in a soccer goal net
Young fox in a predicament

 

Wrong Time to Take a Shot – Allegany County

On the morning of May 3, a New York State Trooper was traveling behind a pickup truck in the town of Grove when the truck suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. Much to the Trooper’s disbelief, the operator of the truck pointed a gun out the window and fired two rounds at a turkey approximately 10 yards off the road. Both shots missed and the turkey flew away unharmed. The Trooper pulled the truck over. ECO RJ Ward responded to assist. After interviewing the shooter, ECO Ward charged the subject with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway, illegally attempting to kill a turkey, attempting to take wildlife from a public highway, and attempting to take wildlife from a motor vehicle.

 

Illegal Turkey Take – Delaware County

On May 4, ECO Nathan Doig responded to a call about an individual who had shot a turkey close to a residence and from the roadway in the town of Davenport. The complainant had been able to take a photograph of the vehicle and its license plate. ECOs Tim Card and Vern Bauer and K-9 Woods responded to assist in gathering evidence and investigating the case. A witness stated they heard four shots. Once K-9 Woods retrieved four shotgun shells, the ECOs determined the shots were taken between 90 and 300 feet from the complainant’s residence. ECO Card assisted in locating the individual and the subject was in possession of a turkey that had his girlfriend’s tag on it. Tickets were issued to both individuals, including trespassing, illegal taking of a turkey, shooting from a public highway, shooting within 500 feet of a dwelling, and lending and using the tags of another. The turkey was seized as evidence and the charges are returnable to Davenport Town Court.

 

Three ECOs in front of their vehicle with their K-9 and seized turkey
Left to right – K-9 Woods, ECOs Bauer, Card, and Doig with illegally shot turkey

 

Out-of-Season Bass – Essex County

On the evening of May 4, ECO Maxwell Nicols received a call from a concerned sportsman who witnessed subjects catching fish on the shore of Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, gutting them on shore, and loading the fish into a nearby vehicle. When he arrived, ECO Nicols saw the four male subjects loading fishing gear into their SUV and preparing to leave. ECO Nicols approached and spotted multiple garbage bags in the vehicle that contained a total of 23 chain pickerel, nine black bass, and one northern pike. All four men were issued tickets for taking black bass out of season, returnable to Ticonderoga Town Court.

 

Nine dead fish lined up on the back of a truck bed.
Nine out-of-season black bass from Lake Champlain

 

More Out-of-Season Bass – Lewis County

On May 5, ECO Tim Worden assisted Fort Drum Federal Game Wardens Colton Rider and Steve Ramil in the investigation of a group taking black bass during the closed season from Indian Lake in the town of Diana. A group had been camping for the weekend at the lake and five black bass were found by the wardens in a cooler. One of the campers took responsibility for the illegally caught fish and was charged with five counts of taking black bass during the closed season. The tickets are returnable to the Town of Diana Court on June 6.

 

10 dead fish, some catfish and some black bass, lined up on the back of a truck.
Black bass discovered in camping cooler