Environmental Conservation Police on Patrol

Environmental Conservation Police on Patrol

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Law Enforcement enforces the 71 chapters of New York State’s 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 2021, 282 Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responded to 26,207 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 11,562 tickets or arrests for violations ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

“DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Investigators are on the front lines each and every day protecting our natural resources by upholding New York’s environmental laws and regulations and safeguarding public health,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “From ensuring hunters and anglers follow rules and regulations afield and on the water, to sustaining partnerships with local law enforcement agencies investigating crimes that include solid waste dumping and air emissions violations, ECOs and Investigators are on patrol, ready to serve their communities. Each year brings new challenges, and fortunately, these Officers and Investigators are expertly trained to perform their duties with persistence, integrity, and good judgment, as they’ve done for over a century.”

Sign Steal Solve – Sullivan County
The Roosa Gap State Forest sign is back where it belongs after it was stolen on April 21. Forest Ranger Franke first received the complaint and referred it to Investigator Conway in the Division of Law Enforcement’s Bureau of Environmental Crime Investigations Unit. The sign was stolen from the signpost on Firetower Road in Mamakating and information obtained from photos posted online led investigators to a residence in the town. Investigator Conway executed a search warrant and found the sign in the subject’s garage. After initially claiming they found the sign on the side of the road, the subject eventually admitted he and a friend had taken it. Investigator Conway contacted the second subject, who admitted the theft and bragged he didn’t need a ladder to take it down. Both men are charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. The pair are scheduled to appear in the Town of Mamakating Court on June 15.

brown and yellow forest sign that says 'Roosa Gap State Forest"
Stolen State forest sign

Post where hanging sign used to be, now without the sign.
Sign-less sign post

Illegal Turkey – Jefferson County
On May 1, while patrolling a Fort Drum training area, ECO Woyton observed vehicles parked in an area closed to hunting/recreation. One of the vehicles, a truck, contained a recently harvested turkey in its bed. Fort Drum Conservation Law Enforcement contacted the truck owner by phone and advised him to return to the vehicle. Officer Woyton determined the turkey was taken in the closed area and ticketed the shooter for unlawful take of a turkey and failing to properly tag the bird, both pending in the town of Antwerp Court. Fort Drum Conservation Law Enforcement also issued multiple citations to the vehicle and their hunting partner for violating Ft. Drum regulations.

deceased turkey
Turkey illegally harvested at Fort Drum training area

Catching a Short One – Suffolk County
On May 4, ECOs Dickson and Small received a complaint about an angler keeping a small striped bass in a black garbage bag at Crab Meadow Beach in Huntington. When the ECOs arrived, they identified a vehicle that matched the description given by the complainant and approached two men who appeared to be packing up. The Officers also noticed a black garbage bag on the backseat. The ECOs interviewed the anglers and one admitted to catching a “short one.” The ECOs found a 23-inch striped bass in the garbage bag, which is outside the legal slot size of 28 to 35 inches. ECOs ticketed the angler who admitted to the catch.

dead white fish on top of a blue measuring tape
Undersized striped bass at Crab Meadow Beach

Nothing But Net – Greene County
On May 4, Lieutenant Glorioso received information that five subjects were in the process of netting several fish at the barrier dam on the Schoharie Creek in the town of Prattville and stashing their catch in a nearby vehicle. Lt. Glorioso and ECOs Vencak, Bohling, and Burgess responded to the area and located the group of anglers. A search of the vehicle revealed a large garbage bag totaling 27 fish containing suckerfish, trout, and smallmouth bass. Three of the five subjects confessed to using the net to catch the fish and received tickets for taking fish by means other than angling, possession of out-of-season smallmouth bass, and fishing without a license.

Officers Bohling, Vencak, and Burgess with illegally netted fish

Dead fish on pavement next to large black fishing net
Illegally caught fish and net used to catch them

Undercover Detail Snags Striped Bass Poachers – Greene County
ECOs in Greene County sprang into action after receiving a complaint about subjects taking over-the-limit and oversized striped bass from the Hudson River in Catskill. The tipster said the subjects caught the fish and quickly stashed them in a nearby vehicle until another person in a different vehicle retrieved the fish. In the early morning hours of May 12, Lt. Glorioso and ECO Palmateer, dressed in plainclothes and driving unmarked cars, observed an angler catch and keep an oversized striped bass and bring it to a second subject’s car, who then drove away. Officers followed the second subject to a residence and observed the subject unload the 39-inch illegal fish. ECOs ticketed the angler for failing to use approved hooks while fishing for striped bass and taking striped bass out of the slot limit. Officers ticketed the second subject for possession of striped bass out of the slot limit. All charges are returnable to the Town of Catskill Court.

ECOs stand next to truck, and one holds a large fish
ECOs Palmateer and Osborne with illegal fish

Somebody’s Watching – Chautauqua County
ECO Kinney received a call from the Jamestown Police Department recently regarding illegal dumping on Pratt Avenue in the town of Jamestown. Video surveillance provided by the Police Department shows three subjects operating a solid waste hauling business dump a large mattress and television on Pratt Avenue at 12:30 p.m. Officers issued four tickets to the group, returnable to the city of Jamestown Court with a minimum fine of $1,500 each. To view the surveillance video visit DEC’s website.

Ducklings and Mallard Mom Safely Recovered from Empty Pool – Dutchess County
On May 13, ECO Eyler responded to an abandoned pool on Fishkill Creek Road in Hopewell Junction where a mallard mother and baby ducklings were trapped. Officer Eyler grabbed a small box and gently scooped up the ducklings as the concerned mother flew around the Officer trying to get back to her loudly-chirping brood. Once collected, ECO Eyler placed the box on the ground outside the pool area and mom led her little ones back to a safer place.

ECO guiding ducklings back to mother
ECO Eyler watches at ducklings reunite with mother

Law Enforcement Job Fair – Nassau County
On May 14, Investigator Grady and ECO Macropoulos attended the Nassau County Police Department Career Fair for those interested in careers in law enforcement or the military. The event was held at the Police Department’s new academy and drew more than 1,000 candidates with many expressing interest in becoming an ECO. Interested candidates can sign up for exam announcements at the New York State Civil Service website. To learn more about a career as an ECO, visit DEC’s website.

ECO and Investigator stand at informational table during career fair
Officer Macropoulos and Investigator Grady at Nassau County Career Fair

Beacon Community Comes Together – Dutchess County
On May 15, ECO Eyler and Forest Rangers Sweeney and Cowart attended the sixth annual Community Safety Day presented by the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The free event at the Elks Lodge on State Route 9D included other local and State agencies and local businesses. ECO Eyler showed pelts of native mammals, as well as several seized endangered animal parts. The Forest Rangers explained the intensity of fighting forest fires to protect communities and the search and rescue techniques employed while looking for lost hikers.

ECO talks to small children while they look at the animal pelts on an informational table
ECO Eyler at ECO booth in Dutchess County

Ranger showing a child a tool
Forest Ranger Cowart at community event in Dutchess County

No App for That – Suffolk County
On May 15, ECO Dickson received a complaint from dispatch about a group of people fishing underneath the Captree State Parkway Bridge with an oversized striped bass laying on the sand next to them. Officer Dickson contacted ECO Macropoulos, a member of the Division of Law Enforcement’s Marine Enforcement Unit, to surveil the area while he made his way to the location. When Officer Dickson arrived, one of the anglers admitted to catching the fish after claiming it measured 32 inches. Officer Dickson measured the striped bass at 37 inches, beyond the legal size for possession. The angler said he measured the fish using a phone app. ECO Dickson ticketed the subject for possession of an oversized striped bass and encouraged him to bring a more appropriate measuring device the next time he fishes.

ECO stands next to truck holding large white fish
Officer Dickson with oversized striped bass

Full Moon Blues – Nassau County
On May 16, while conducting marine fishing checks at a boat ramp in the village of Freeport, ECO Pabes spotted a recreational vessel returning from a fishing trip. The Officer inspected the vessel and the captain admitted to having an excess number of bluefish, which has a bag limit of three fish per day, per angler. The ECO found 26 bluefish onboard. The captain accepted responsibility for the illegal fish and received a ticket for possession of excess in his daily limit of fish, returnable to Nassau District Court. Officer Pabes seized the fish and donated them to a wildlife rehabilitator to feed animals.

large amount of dead fish lined up on a dock
Seized bluefish

Police Memorial Day Ceremony – Genesee County
On May 19, ECOs Mathis, Gill, Powers, and Lieutenant Ward participated in the Police Memorial Day Ceremony held at the Troop A New York State Police Headquarters in Batavia. The ceremony honored members of Troop A who selflessly gave their lives in the line of duty and provided the residents of New York with the highest degree of law enforcement service.

four ECOs and on State Police Officer pose for a picture with a back drop
ECOs Mathis, Gill, Powers, and Lt. Ward joined by New York State Police Superintendent Bruen at Police Memorial Day Ceremony

An Officer and a Hero – Putnam County
ECO Daniel Franz was recently honored for his bravery and quick action that saved two lives. Officer Franz responded to a serious motor vehicle accident on April 7 in the town of Carmel, where a man and his dog were trapped inside a vehicle hanging off an embankment. ECO Franz made a split-second decision to place the safety of another before his own and pulled the man and his dog out of the car seconds before it burst into flame. In recognition of this selfless and courageous service, DEC Commissioner Seggos presented Officer Franz with the Commissioner’s Meritorious Service Award, DEC’s highest recognition.

ECO standing next to vehicle in a field, holding an award
Officer Franz with Commissioner’s Meritorious Service Award

Muslim Youth Career Day – Queens County
On May 21, ECO Parmelee attended an outreach and recruitment event for Muslim youth groups at the New York Police Department (NYPD) academy. Officers with the NYPD, Port Authority Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office also attended the event. The career day gives young people of Muslim faith an opportunity to speak with representatives from various law enforcement agencies, helping them to better understand the role of law enforcement and inspire them to consider a career with the agencies represented.

ECO stands at informational table that has animal pelts on it
ECO Parmelee at Muslim Youth Recruitment Event

Give Turtles a Break – Orange County
On May 22, while on patrol, ECOs Schuck and Lovgren encountered New York’s most terrestrial turtle, the eastern box turtle, attempting to cross the road in the town of Deerpark. The Officers successfully facilitated the turtle’s crossing. Populations of this turtle are in decline, as they face threats of habitat loss, road mortality, and collection for the illegal pet trade. In addition, this species is challenged by delayed sexual maturity and high mortality of eggs and young. In New York, thousands of turtles migrating to nesting areas are killed each year when struck by vehicles. If a motorist sees a turtle on the road, drivers are encouraged to slow down to avoid hitting it with their vehicle. If the vehicle can safely stop, motorists should consider moving the turtle to the shoulder on the side of the road in the direction it was facing. Motorists are advised not to pick turtles up by their tails to avoid injuring the turtle. DEC reminds people to never take turtles home. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be kept without a DEC permit. For more information visit DEC’s website.

ECO kneels in the street to help turtle cross the road
ECO assisting eastern box turtle with street crossing

Close-up of ECO holding yellow and black box turtle
ECO properly handling an eastern box turtle

No Sale for Radiated Tortoise – Queens County
A Queens County man recently paid a fine for trying to sell an endangered tortoise. In February 2022, Investigator Conway in DEC’s Region 3 Office contacted Investigator Harvey regarding the online sale of a radiated tortoise. Investigator Harvey contacted the online seller in an undercover capacity and inquired about purchasing the animal. The seller offered the tortoise for $2,000 and agreed to meet. On March 16, Investigator Harvey accompanied members of the New York Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Unit to meet the seller and charged the man for the illegal attempted sale. The subject paid a $2,000 fine and relinquished ownership to the Bronx Zoo, where the tortoise will live with other radiated tortoises. Native to Madagascar, the radiated tortoise is listed as critically endangered and rapidly nearing extinction. Their unique shells make them an easy target for poachers looking to make money in the illegal pet trade.

small black and yellow turtle in a white box
Seized radiated tortoise

Tactical Vessel Operators Course – Monroe County
ECOs from across the State participated in a certified Tactical Vessel Operators Course from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in Monroe County. Eleven Officers joined instructors from Florida and South Carolina for a weeks-long training mission on the waters of Lake Ontario. The course included information and hands-on training on security zones, escorts, high speed pursuits, and intercepts. The Officers also increased their knowledge about high-speed close-quarters vessel operation and high-value asset protection. Funding was provided by a port security grant. Participating ECOs are now certified to help assist in local, State, and federal operations.

ECOs and instructors on a small green boat
Tactical Vessel Operator class with instructors

ECO Boat on the water
Environmental Conservation Police SAFE Boat performing an intercept

ECO driving boat while following another boat
ECO Scheer intercepting a vessel

Boater Safety Week – Fulton County
On May 20, ECOs joined law enforcement agencies including the Fulton County, Saratoga County, and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Offices, and the U.S. Coast Guard at Great Sacandaga Lake in Mayfield to kick off the annual ‘Boater Safety Week’ ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, a historically busy weekend for boaters. Law enforcement will be out in force this summer ensuring boaters are following the proper safety guidelines, including having life jackets and fire extinguishers on board, proper boat registration, and boating sober. To check out a video from the event, visit DEC’s YouTube page.

ECO Academy – Oswego County
On May 22, 20 new ECO recruits from 15 counties across the State, began their 29-week training at the Pulaski Academy in Oswego County. Recruits will log 1,520 hours of training in how to perform ECO job duties centered on enforcing the 71 chapters of New York State Environmental Conservation Law. Responsibilities range from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, black market pet trade, and emissions violations.

Author: Harlem Valley News