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 2022, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responded to more than 25,600 calls and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 13,800 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 work hard each day to serve their communities, protect our precious natural resources, and safeguard public health, while ensuring those who break the state’s stringent Environmental Conservation Laws are held accountable,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “In partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement, DEC looks forward to continuing to support the work our ECOs perform in every corner of New York.”

Illegal Guns Intercepted – Oswego County

On April 23, ECO Bonilla responded to a firearms complaint in the town of New Haven. The ECO arrived at the location and observed three men standing at a table with five long guns on it. The group advised they were conducting target practice for most of the evening. Officer Bonilla realized the men were well within the 500-foot limit for discharging firearms near dwellings. He also observed two of the long guns had characteristics that made them unlawful under the NY SAFE Act. ECO Bonilla charged the trio with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. New York State Police arrested the individual who admitted to owning the two guns with unpermitted modifications and charged him with several misdemeanor and felony charges related to the SAFE Act.

It Wasn’t Me – Delaware County

On May 5, an individual turkey hunting in the Bear Spring Mountain Wildlife Management Area in the town of Walton observed a subject drive down the road. The driver mistook the hunter’s turkey decoys for real turkeys and discharged a 12-guage shotgun round from his vehicle. The subject sped away after realizing he had shot a fake turkey. The hunter called ECOs for assistance and provided Officers with a description of the vehicle. ECOs Doig and Osborne patrolled the area for the next two days attempting to locate the vehicle without success. On May 7, Officer Osbourne spotted a vehicle matching the description traveling in the same area where the shooting occurred. The ECO followed the vehicle a short distance before it pulled into the driveway of a residence and interviewed the driver who denied shooting the decoy despite having a 12-guage shotgun and other evidence in his vehicle. Officer Osbourne left the residence, but returned to re-interview the subject after further investigation. This time, the subject admitted to shooting from his vehicle at what he believed to be a real turkey. The ECO ticketed the subject for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, returnable to the Town of Walton Court.

Fake plastic turkey
Turkey decoy shot during illegal hunting incident in Delaware County

Turkey Decoy Detail – Town of Niles

Earlier this month, Lieutenant Colesante and ECOs Sincebaugh and Prentice conducted a turkey decoy detail in the town of Niles. During the detail, a familiar subject pulled up and shot the decoy out the driver’s side window of his pickup truck while his 14-year-old son watched from the passenger seat. The shooter is well known to Lt. Colesante and ECO Sincebaugh as someone who repeatedly fails to comply with New York State Environmental Conservation Law. The Officers ticketed the subject for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and shooting from a public highway. Additional charges may follow, pending consultation with the District Attorney’s Office.

realistic looking fake turkey in a field
Turkey decoy on the job looking for poachers

Too Close for Comfort – Fulton County

On May 7, ECO Shaw responded to a complaint about a hunter shooting a turkey on posted property. The Officer arrived at the location and learned through interviews that the subject first shot at the turkey from State land and then chased it to a nearby residence and fired two more shots. The hunter then went onto private property to retrieve the bird. When confronted, the hunter said he didn’t think it was a big deal because the turkey flopped onto posted property after he shot it. During his investigation, ECO Shaw located a shell casing indicating the hunter was approximately 225 feet from the complainant’s residence when he fired the shots. It is illegal to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a residence. Officer Shaw ticketed the subject for illegally taking a turkey, trespassing, and shooting within 500 feet of a residence.

ECO holding dead turkey
ECO Shaw and unlawfully taken turkey

Statewide Fishing Compliance Checks – Nassau, Suffolk, Albany Counties

ECOs from across the state conducted a series of fishing compliance checks over the past several weeks.

  • On May 2, ECOs Pabes and DeRose, along with K9 Cramer, conducted a two-day striped bass detail at various bridges throughout Nassau County. The Officers seized 27 illegally caught fish during the detail and issued tickets to anglers for taking and possessing undersized and excess striped bass, failure to obtain marine fishing registries, and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, all returnable to Nassau Fire District Court.
  • On May 7, while conducting fishing compliance checks on several vessels at a boat launch in the town of Southold, Suffolk County, ECO Zullo ticketed the captain of one boat for possessing over-the-limit weakfish and a black sea bass, which is currently out of season in New York State. Officer Zullo seized the fish and donated them to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge to help feed animals being rehabilitated at the facility.
  • On May 15, ECOs Vencak, Curinga, Fettermen, Bohling, and Lieutenant Terrell conducted fishing compliance checks along the Hudson River. The Officers observed an angler catch a striped bass and quickly leave the area. When Officers approached, the subject took off on a bicycle and refused commands to stop. The ECOs chased the subject on foot and eventually caught up to the angler. The Officers issued two tickets to the fisherman for possessing a striped bass over the legal slot size and disobeying the lawful order of a Conservation Officer. The team also checked three boats and wrote similar tickets for striped bass over the slot size on board.

several large fish on the ground near ECO vehicle
Striped bass seized during fishing compliance checks in Nassau County

K9 ECO sits next to fish found
K9 Cramer locates illegal striped bass tied to traffic barrel in Nassau County

ECO holds two large fish
ECO Bohling with fish seized during fishing compliance checks on the Hudson River

Seal Team Green – Suffolk County

On May 9, ECOs Simmons, Vandenbos, and Zullo received a complaint from the New York Marine Rescue Center (NYMRC) reporting a seal entangled in a gill net on Little Gull Island. The Officers responded by boat and spotted the animal on the island through binoculars. ECOs Zullo and Vandenbos jumped out of the boat, captured the injured seal, and transported it back to the vessel. The Officers delivered the seal to the NYMRC in Riverhead for treatment of its wounds and eventual release back into the wild.

ECOs kneel next to injured seal
ECOs Zullo and Vandenbos with seal found entangled by a net in Suffolk County

injured seal in large grey tub
Injured seal found entangled by a net in Suffolk County expected to fully recover

Honoring Our Fallen Officers – Nassau County

On May 6, just a few days after their names were added to the New York State Police Memorial in Albany, members of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement were honored at the New York State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) on Long Island. ECOs DeRose and Michalet attended the ceremony, which honors Police Officers from across the state who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities. DEC honored three of their own at the ceremony: Investigator Thomas Graham, Jr.; Lieutenant Paul Adam; and ECO Lawrence Cabana – all of whom responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks and subsequently succumbed to illnesses after working at the World Trade Center site. The three names were read aloud by ECO DeRose and each Officer was honored by having their names etched into the FOP memorial wall, just as they were days earlier at the State Police Memorial. Investigator Graham’s family was in attendance and escorted by ECO Michalet to lay a ceremonial carnation at the wall. ECO DeRose also located the name of Game Protector William Cramer on the wall. Game Protector Cramer was murdered in the line of duty in 1929, and is the Officer for whom ECO DeRose’s partner, K9 Cramer, is named.

two ECOs salute memorial
ECOs DeRose and Michalet salute Police Officers from across the state who paid the ultimate sacrifice at New York Fraternal Order of Police ceremony

ECOs and other law enforcement agencies stand at attention during memorial
ECOs and other New York State Police Agencies honor fallen colleagues at New York Fraternal Order of Police ceremony in New York City

ECO and State Police walk with family of fallen officer
ECO Michalet escorting the family of fallen DLE member Inv. Thomas Graham, Jr., at New York Fraternal Order of Police ceremony in New York City

Tour De Force – Clinton County

On May 7, ECOs attended the eighth annual Tour de Force charity run at Point Au Roche State Park in Plattsburgh, Clinton County. The Tour de Force charity, started in 2002 by two New York City Police Detectives to raise money for victims of September 11, has grown to include family members of Police Officers killed in the line of duty across the country. This year’s run was in remembrance of Border Patrol Agent Hunter C. LaBombard, who passed away tragically in an off-duty accident earlier this year. ECO LaCroix, a member of DEC’s Pipe and Drum Band, played “Amazing Grace” during the opening ceremony and ECO Fadden assisted in escorting the LaBombard family during the event. Lieutenant Younglove and his family also participated in the 5K run to honor his fallen colleague.

ECOs pose for picture after memorial race
ECO Fadden, Lt. Younglove, and ECO LaCroix attend 8th Annual Tour De Force in Clinton County

Lost in the Woods – Warren County

On May 13, Warren County 911 Dispatch radioed for ECOs to help find a child lost in the woods. The 15-year-old was riding an ATV with friends when he became separated from the group. At some point, the ATV got stuck and the teenager called 911. ECO Newell arrived at the location first and used his vehicle’s lights and sirens to provide the lost ATV rider with a direction out of the woods. From there, Officer Newell coordinated with Warren County Dispatch and a Deputy to locate the teen, eventually finding their way through a wetland to reach him and guide him back to his parents.

Officer, ECO, and teenager pose for picture after being found
Deputy Keehr (left) and ECO Newell (right) with lucky off-road rider

Mystery Hand – Niagara County

On May 13, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office contacted ECO Holzle for his assistance in identifying what was suspected to be a human hand. Officer Holzle checked with DEC Regional Wildlife Biologist Connie Adams, who determined the mystery hand is actually a paw from a black bear.

hairless, decaying bear paw that looks like a human hand
Mystery “hand” later identified as black bear paw

Injured Raven – Schoharie County

On May 16, ECO Bohling responded to a call reporting an injured raven in the town of Summit. A neighbor helped quickly locate the raven. While unable to fly, the bird was able to quickly hop and glide away, making it difficult to catch. Additional residents joined the effort and helped to push the raven to an open area where Officer Bohling captured the bird. The ECO then brought the raven to the Friends of the Feathered and Furry wildlife center for treatment and evaluation.

ECO holds large, injured raven
ECO Bohling with ailing raven

ECOs Connect with New York Communities

ECOs across the state participated in a series of career fairs and outreach programs over the past several weeks, introducing people of all ages to the job duties of an Environmental Conservation Police Officer and giving back to the communities they serve.

  • On April 29, ECO Scalisi connected with participants of the 15th annual Women in Nature skills workshop, organized by the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. Held at the Fayetteville-Manlius Outdoor Club, more than 120 women attended the event and participated in classes including archery, birding, crossbow, fly-fishing, map and compass reading, rifle and shotgun marksmanship, and wild game cooking. Officer Scalisi answered questions and shared DEC’s efforts to advance the 30×30 initiative to increase representation of women in law enforcement careers.
  • On May 5, ECO Scheer spent time with students from Niagara Falls High School during their annual Outdoor Career Fair at Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown. Officer Scheer joined speakers from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and the U.S. Coast Guard to share the many outdoor career opportunities available in New York State, as well as the hiring process to become an ECO.
  • On May 6, ECOs Armstrong, Eisenberg, and Wilson participated in an outreach program in the town of Vestal for the public to familiarize themselves with the various police agencies throughout Broome County, including ECOs. The Officers’ display included a UTV, deer decoy, and animal pelts, which are always a big hit with kids. ECO Armstrong also conducted a demonstration with his K9 partner Falcon and provided pamphlets to those interested in one day becoming an ECO.
  • On May 6, more than 100 participants arrived at the first-ever fishing derby hosted by the Lyndonville Central School System. Children of all ages attended with their own fishing equipment or used rods and reels provided by DEC. ECOs Fonda, Fuerch, Laczi, Godson, and Muchow assisted the junior anglers with getting fish off the hooks and showing them how to properly measure their catch.
  • On May 10, ECO Mead, Lieutenant Bobseine, and Deputy Shields of the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office spoke to students at the University at Buffalo about understanding and mitigating violence. The presentation focused on preparing a classroom for an active threat and preparing mentally and physically for a violent encounter. The students were engaged and asked thoughtful questions about an issue that has become far too commonplace in American schools.
  • On May 11, ECO LaCroix and K9 Web conducted a demonstration at Paul Smith’s College. Officer LaCroix explained the importance of the Division of Law Enforcement’s K9 Unit in assisting ECOs and other agencies with locating evidence and individuals. The demo was attended by students from the Conservation Law Enforcement class at the college.
  • On May 13, World Migratory Bird Day, ECOs Small and Perkins attended an outreach event at Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in the town of Shirley, Suffolk County. The event, hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, focused on the different migratory birds found on Long Island. There were a variety of activities in which the public could participate, such as live bird shows, fishing, kayaking, and archery.
  • On May 13, ECOs Michalet and Carpenter attended a Law Enforcement and Military Career Fair hosted by the Nassau County Police Department in Garden City. The event included more than 20 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and military branches from Long Island and New York City. ECOs spoke to attendees as young as 14 who are interested in law enforcement careers and provided them descriptions of the ECO job, advice on applying to join DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, and information about other career opportunities at DEC.

Girl shoots at trap flying through the air
Women in Nature participant at a trap shooting station, Onondaga County

ECOs and K9 ECO stand at informational table with kids
ECOs Wilson and Armstrong with potential future Conservation Officers in Broome County

ECO helps kids learn to fish
ECO Muchow assists young anglers at Lyndonville Central School Fishing Derby

ECO points to projector screen while speaking with college students
ECO Mead addresses students at University at Buffalo about violence in schools

ECO and K9 ECO talk to group of college students
ECO LaCroix and K9 Web with students from Paul Smith’s College

ECO helps archer aim and shoot a bow and arrow
ECO Perkins with a first-time archer at Suffolk County event celebrating World Migratory Bird Day

Two ECOs stand at informational table during career fair
ECOs Carpenter and Michalet at Law Enforcement and Military Career Fair in Nassau County

To contact an ECO to report an environmental crime or to report an incident, call 1-844-DEC-ECOS for 24-hour dispatch or email (for non-urgent violations).


Author: Harlem Valley News