DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights
ECO Actions for Mid-May to Early June
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:
Hunter Shot While Turkey Hunting – Steuben County
On the morning of May 15, ECO Matthew Baker received a call from Steuben County 911 reporting that one adult male had been admitted to Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville with a gunshot wound suffered while turkey hunting in the town of Cohocton. ECO Baker drove to the hospital and interviewed the subject, who was lucky to have suffered only minor injuries from a pellet lodged in his middle finger. The man said he and his hunting partner had set up two turkey decoys in a field that morning and returned to separate parts of the field where they could not see each other. The subject attempted to set up a third decoy without notifying his hunting partner. Dressed in camouflage and carrying the decoy in front of him, the man began to move through a hedgerow and out into the field. The hunting partner saw what he thought was a real turkey and fired one shot, striking the subject. New York State Police, ECO Shawn Dussault, K-9 Ski, BECI Investigators Lt. Chris Didion and Inv. Mark Wojtkowiak, and ECO Keith Levanway helped investigate the incident, which involved recreating the scene. DEC would like to remind all hunters to follow the four basic rules of hunter safety when afield.
Turkey decoy recovered from hunting related shooting incident
Dinner Plans Thwarted – Queens County
On May 18, ECOs Connor Dodge and Joshua Jarecki were on patrol at the Bayside Marina in Little Neck Bay when they witnessed a group of four individuals digging in the mud and collecting shellfish. The ECOs approached the group of family members and found that they were in possession of more than 1,000 clams. Five summonses were issued for the taking of shellfish from uncertified waters and the clams were released back to the bay. After the summons were issued to the individuals, ECO Jarecki was walking through the parking lot when he spotted female crabs in the bed of the truck belonging to the group. Twelve of the 36 crabs had egg sacks attached to them. In New York, it is illegal to possess any species of crab in possession of egg sacks. A second summons for possession of crabs in spawn was issued to one of the subjects and the female crabs were returned to the water.
Illegal female crabs (L) and more than 1,000 illegal clams (R)
Horse Neglect Arrest – Greene County
On May 20, ECO Anthony Glorioso responded to a location in the town of Durham after receiving a tip that horses were being neglected. On scene, ECO Glorioso found that two of the four horses had extremely long hooves, approximately 10 inches long, and one of the horses was unable to stand. Two days later, ECO Glorioso returned to the location with SPCA investigators, who agreed that the conditions of the two horses were unacceptable and warranted criminal charges. ECO Glorioso arrested the owner and charged him with two counts of a Class A misdemeanor for failing to provide sustenance to horses. Responding officers estimate that these horses have not been seen by a farrier in two years.
Neglected horse in Durham
Bear Relocation Project – Greene, Sullivan, Ulster Counties
On May 22, ECOs Jon Walraven, Melissa Burgess, and Adam Johnson, members of DEC Region 3’s Chemical Immobilization Team (CIT), and Region 3 wildlife staff coordinated the relocation of seven rehabilitated bears from the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hunter. The bears were previously brought to the facility as either orphaned cubs or young bears with injuries and in need of rehabilitation. The young bears average an estimated 60 to 90 lbs. and are now old enough and physically strong enough to be released. DLE’s CIT team is a group of specially trained ECOs who respond to wildlife emergencies when wildlife needs to be relocated for the safety of the public and/or the animals themselves. The bears were brought to locations in Sullivan and Ulster counties for release back into the wild.
ECOs Burgess and Walraven prepare to relocate bear cub
Out-Foxed by Fence – Tioga County
On May 25, ECO Stan Winnick was contacted by the Tioga County Sheriff’s Department about a curious kit fox that managed to get its head stuck in a chain link fence in the town of Owego. Once on scene, ECO Winnick utilized bolt cutters to cut away a small portion of the fence, freeing the fox.
ECO Stan Winnick rescued this young fox from a difficult situation
Stream Bank Enforcement – Delaware County
On May 25, ECO Nathan Doig responded to an anonymous complaint in the town of Deposit that an individual was conducting illegal excavation work on a Delaware River West Branch stream bank. The Delaware is a renowned tailwater fishery that supports excellent wild populations of brown, rainbow, and brook trout. Upon arrival, ECO Doig observed the subject using a skid steer to alter the banks of the protected trout stream. ECO Doig immediately ordered the man to halt the work and issued the subject a ticket for disturbing the banks of a stream without a permit. Remediation will be coordinated through DEC Region 4.
Illegal modification of stream bank
Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Carp Fishermen is No Match for Canny ECO – Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties
In the early morning hours of June 1, ECO Brian Canzeri was alerted to a group of four fishermen illegally operating a 23-foot powerboat on the Tomhannock Reservoir, where no boats are allowed. Tomhannock Reservoir is a 1700-acre public water supply that services Troy and surrounding communities, and for this reason, special rules and regulations apply to protect its water quality. ECO Canzeri arrived and waited in the dark for the carp bow fishermen, surprising them as they came off the water. After interviews, Canzeri issued tickets for illegal boating on a reservoir, failure to have proper reservoir permits, and taking fish contrary to regulations, since bow fishing is not permitted at this location. ECO Canzeri measured, weighed, and photographed the two carp in the subjects’ possession, one of which weighed more than 30 pounds. The men were advised to dispose of the fish properly. The next morning Canzeri acted on a hunch, aware of a nearby fishing derby, and contacted one of the judges for the Springfling Bowfishing Tournament on Saratoga Lake. He also notified Saratoga County ECOs Mark Klein and Steven Shaw and told them to be on the lookout for the men he ticketed. ECOs Klein and Shaw were on hand when the four anglers attempted to enter the illegal fish, which would have won them the tournament’s top prize of $3,000. Tournament officials disqualified the group and the money was awarded to a team that played by the rules.
ECO Brian Canzeri and the almost $3,000 carp