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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

Recent ECO Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators enforce the 71 Chapters of NY 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, the 298 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.

“DEC’s Environmental Conservation Police Officers are working hard in communities across New York to protect natural resources by upholding our state’s stringent laws and regulations and protecting public safety,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Our ECOs are expertly trained to perform their duties in every setting-from cities to wilderness-and continue to adapt to meet new and emerging challenges as they build on their longstanding commitment to protect New York’s environment.”

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).

Goose Rescue – Sullivan County
On May 30, fishermen contacted ECO Grose reporting an injured Canada Goose at Junction Pool in Roscoe. They located the goose, which appeared to have a broken wing, on the bank of the stream. ECO Grose captured it and transported it to a local wildlife rehabilitator.

goose sitting on small rocks
Injured Canada Goose rescued on stream bank

Great Blue Heron Hits Powerline – Orange County
On May 22, ECO DuChene responded to reports of an injured Great Blue Heron in the Town of Chester. When she arrived, Officer DuChene met with the head keeper and park supervisor for Trailside Museums and Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park to develop a plan. With help from volunteers, Officer DuChene and the other responders successfully captured the injured Blue Heron and transported it to Missy Runyan and her staff at the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center in Hunter. The medical staff determined the bird likely fractured its radius and ulna after striking a powerline while in flight. After required surgeries, the Great Blue Heron is making a speedy recovery and will eventually be released back to its natural habitat in Chester.

ECO and volunteers pose for picture in wooded area after rescuing heron
(from left to right) Volunteer Jason Ramey, ECO DuChene, Volunteer Jeff Rossi, Head Keeper Melissa Gillmer after a successful great blue heron rescue.

photo of x-ray of bird wing
Great blue heron X-Ray of a fractured radius / ulna

large bird in cage with wing wrapped up
Great blue heron with bandaged wing awaiting surgery

K9 Handley Comes in Handy in Search for Suspects – Genesee County
On May 24, ECO Fuerch and K9 Handley assisted the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office with tracking two suspects after a vehicle pursuit. The incident began when a Sheriff’s Deputy observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed and attempted to stop it, but the driver refused to comply. The vehicle continued through the town of Oakfield before coming to an intersection where it went airborne into a field. The vehicle struck a tree in the field but kept going. A backseat passenger jumped out of the moving vehicle and was taken into custody. The vehicle eventually stopped in the field and the two remaining occupants fled on foot. ECO Fuerch was working in the area at the time and joined the search for the suspects with K9 Handley. K9 Handley led the officers to a nearby residence where they were advised that a neighbor gave the two suspects a ride to Walmart in Batavia. Deputies located them at the Walmart and arrested them. Charges include 3rd degree criminal possession of a weapon, 4th degree criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, 4th degree criminal mischief, 2nd degree obstructing governmental administration, and 3rd degree aggravated unlicensed operation. The driver was also wanted in Michigan for being a parole absconder.

Solid Waste Investigation Leads to Illegal Deer Bust – Ulster County
On May 26, ECO Walraven successfully completed the prosecution of an illegal deer case that occurred in the town of Marbletown during the 2020 deer season. While investigating a separate solid waste case, ECO Walraven observed several bucks hanging in a shed on the property. He interviewed the 42-year-old hunter who killed the deer and discovered that the hunter took one of the bucks with a crossbow without a valid muzzleloader privilege, as required, during the southern zone early bow season. He took the second spike-horn buck in a Wildlife Management Unit under antler restrictions. The man was fined and ordered to pay penalties of $827.50 in the Town of Marbletown Court.

ECO poses in front of vehicle with two confiscated bucks
ECO Walraven with two bucks taken illegally

Illegal Fishing – Erie County
In June, ECO Koepf received a complaint from a fisherman who observed another angler illegally fishing with a large gill net anchored in Elliot Creek in the town of Amherst. ECO Koepf arrived at the location a short time later, but the subject fled after his encounter with the complainant, leaving behind a large net and a fishing pole. ECOs Koepf and Scheer then conducted a plainclothes fishing detail at the location in hopes the subject would return to his net and the other gear left behind. While the subject did not return during this time, the ECOs removed the gill net from the water to prevent future illegal fishing and released a snapping turtle they discovered being held in a submerged container anchored to the shore.

ECO standing in river holding large net
ECO Koepf removing a 60-foot gill net

large turtle in blue crate being prepared for release into water
ECO Koepf releasing a snapping turtle

Sportsmen’s Federation Youth Expo – Ulster County
On June 6, ECOs Walraven and Johnson participated in the Ulster County Sportsmen’s Federation Youth Expo at Lippman Park in the town of Wawarsing. ECO Walraven and Johnson fielded questions from the public regarding hunting, fishing, and boating regulations. The Federation held a raffle, provided lunch to all attendees, and offered fishing, archery, and marksmanship demonstrations.

two ECOs stand at informational table with ATVs on either side of them
ECOs Johnson and Walraven at the Ulster County Sportsmen’s Federation Youth Expo