DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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).

City Bus BOLO – Albany County
On May 28, while patrolling the Port of Albany for heavy duty diesel violations, ECO Hameline overheard a “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) alert for a recently stolen Capital District Transportation Authority bus reportedly taken from the Greyhound bus terminal in the city of Albany. With the help of GPS location updates from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, ECO Hameline entered the New York State Thruway at exit 23 where he observed a bus matching the description in the BOLO heading southbound. ECO Hameline made a U-turn and caught up with the bus, along with a New York State Police Trooper who was also in pursuit. ECO Hameline assisted in pulling the driver of the bus over and he was taken into custody by the State Police.

Blue bus outside of a building
CDTA bus, courtesy of Steve Smith, Albany Police Department

Bear Cub v. Chicken Feeder – Greene County
On July 1, ECO Smith received a call from a resident in the hamlet of Round Top about a black bear cub with what appeared to be a bucket stuck on its head. ECO Smith responded to the location, but the cub had wandered into a nearby wooded area by the time he arrived. Over the course of the next several days, the Officer received multiple calls and text messages from nearby residents, including a photograph of the cub perched on a tree trunk with a plastic chicken feeder on its head, an object unlikely to break apart or fall off without intervention. On July 10, ECO Smith received a call from the manager of a resort in Round Top who located the cub in a wooded area. ECO Smith, Lt. Glorioso, and New York State Police Trooper Alberts responded to the area, located the cub-now accompanied by additional cubs and a sow-and formulated a plan to remove the object. The sow was hazed away from the area to provide enough space and time for the responding Officers to secure the cub in a catch pole. Lt. Glorioso then cut the thick plastic collar of the chicken feeder and removed it from the cub’s head. The cub was released back to the sow without injury. For more information on reducing human-bear conflicts, visit DEC’s website.

Three bears in woods, one with a plastic bucket stuck on its head
Black bear cub with chicken feeder stuck on its head

ECOs next to vehicle
Lt. Glorioso and ECO Smith after successfully removing the feeder

Bear in tree with plastic bucket on head
Close-up of the bear cub

Baby Owl Rescue – Rockland County
On July 2, contractors working at a historical site in the town of Clarkson came across a baby owl and contacted DEC. ECO Thibodeau responded, located the bird, and unsuccessfully canvassed the area for the owl’s nest. The ECO safely captured the owl and transported it to Trailside Museums and Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park. The owl was identified as an Eastern screech owl. For more information, visit Trailside Museum and Zoo’s website.

small grey owl in leaves
Rescued eastern screech owl

eco wearing gloves holding small owl next to vehicle
ECO Thibodeau with rescued baby owl

Capsized Vessel – Hudson River
On July 12, ECOs Helmeyer and Franz responded to a radio call reporting a capsized sailing vessel with two boaters in the water in the proximity of the Rhinecliff Train station. The ECOs contacted the boaters and confirmed there were no injuries. The Officers helped the boaters and, with the assistance of the New York State Police, secured the vessel and maneuvered it to shore.

ECO boat towing small capsized boat through the water
ECOs Helmeyer and Franz assisting boaters after their sailing vessel capsized in the Hudson River

Water Rescue – Jefferson County
On July 18, ECO Jackson received a report about a boat in distress on South Sandy Creek in the town of Ellisburg. Heavy rains the previous evening caused flood conditions on the river, with high waters and a fast-moving current. A 12-foot aluminum boat with three adults and two children on board became pinned to a partially submerged tree laying across the flooded river. The boat was taking on water and in danger of tipping over. ECO Jackson responded to the DEC boat launch on South Sandy Creek where he met with State Police, Belleville Fire Department, Adams Fire Department, and the South Jefferson Rescue Squad. Officer Jackson launched a specialty watercraft known as a “mud boat” equipped with a surface drive outboard. With the assistance of a State Trooper, ECO Jackson navigated downstream to locate the distressed family. Taking advantage of the durability and capabilities of the mud boat, ECO Jackson ran the hull up onto the downed tree in the river, providing a stable platform to transfer the family of five into the mud boat with the Trooper’s help. Once the family was secure, the Officers verified there were no injuries and brought the family up-river to the boat launch. Belleville Fire and State Police pulled the rescued family’s boat to shore with a rope and found that the outboard motor had lost the propeller in the incident. The incident serves as a reminder of the dangers of swift-moving floodwaters and debris. Boaters are reminded to always have the proper safety equipment and gear on board their vessel and ensure the boat can handle the water conditions prior to leaving the safety of shore.

Truck with small boat on trailer in parking lot
DEC mud boat used in South Sandy Creek rescue

Author: Harlem Valley News