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 illegal 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.”

Fish Compliance Checks – Queens/Oswego/New York Counties
Angling after hours and illegal fish sales are topping this week’s fishing compliance checks across the state:

  • On Sept. 21, ECOs Goonan and Swart received a tip reporting individuals selling striped bass from the sidewalk in Flushing, Queens. The ECOs responded to the location under an overpass and found a makeshift stand featuring untagged striped bass for sale. The Officers seized nine fish and issued a New York City summons for the attempted sale.
  • On Sept. 22, ECO Grogan received a call at approximately 2:30 a.m. reporting a large group at the Black Hole, a popular fishing location on the Salmon River in the town of Richland, Oswego County. Fishing is not permitted at night on the Salmon River. After calling Officers Brown and Zullo for assistance, ECO Grogan arrived at the location and quickly noticed an individual in the parking lot serving as a lookout for the anglers. To bypass the lookout, the Officer remained hidden and used thermal night vision, observing anglers attempting to blind snatch salmon from the river. ECOs Grogan and Brown eventually surprised the men, ordering them to place their fishing gear on the ground as Officer Zullo gathered salmon already on stringers. The Officers apprehended 11 anglers and issued 26 tickets for violations including possession of weighted hooks, snag hooks, snatching, fishing after hours, and failure to possess a fishing license.
  • On Sept. 28, while conducting routine inspections at fish markets in New York City, ECOs Broughton and Goonan observed an individual selling tautog, AKA blackfish, from the sidewalk during the closed season. The Officers discovered 12 tautog for sale, three times the legal possession limit if the fish were in season. ECOs educated the individual on regulations regarding tautog and issued a ticket returnable to New York City Criminal Court.

four stripped bass in open container
Striped bass offered for sale illegally in Queens County

Tautog in open container on ground
Out-of-season tautog offered for sale illegally in New York City

Climb Aboard Victor – Ontario County
On Sept. 16, residents in the village of Victor were invited to the annual “Climb Aboard” event. Hundreds of villagers participated in the second annual event allowing attendees to climb into more than 50 big trucks and vehicles, ranging from fire trucks and construction equipment to a heavy wrecker and medivac helicopter. This year, ECOs Laczi, Snowdon, and Dussault (with K-9 Vinny in tow) displayed vehicles for participants to explore, including snowmobiles, a UTV, and marked DEC patrol cars. The Officers also brought turkey, coyote, and bear decoys, as well as a mechanical deer. The ECOs demonstrated how the equipment is used during daily patrols, answered questions, and gave everyone the chance to “climb aboard” the vehicles.

DEC equipment at event
DEC equipment at “Climb Aboard Victor” event in Ontario County

Shot in the Dark – Sullivan County
On Sept. 21, at approximately 4:30 a.m., ECOs Doroski and Boyes received a report of a shot fired in a field in the town of Fallsburg. The caller, who had prior run-ins with poachers on his property, was able to provide a license plate number, description of the vehicle, and the last known direction of travel. Officers Doroski and Boyes recovered the targeted deer and located the suspect vehicle at a nearby house. The ECOs interviewed three subjects and uncovered multiple Environmental Conservation Law violations. ECOs charged the shooter with trespass, use of an artificial light to take deer, taking dear out of season and after hours, possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, and hunting without a license. The two accomplices were charged with acting as accessories to violations, as well as trespass. The shooter’s rifle, spotlight, and the deer were seized.

ECO with illegally killed deer
ECO Boyes with an illegally killed deer and seized .308 rifle in Sullivan County

Youth Pheasant Hunts – Rensselaer/Greene Counties
ECOs in DEC’s Region 4 participated in successful youth pheasant hunts on Sept. 23.

  • Lieutenant Maloney and ECOs Bush and Curinga participated in a youth pheasant hunt in Rensselaer County. Following the recent acquisition of property on George Allen Hollow Road in the town of Berlin, members of the Division of Law Enforcement members worked with Bureau of Wildlife employees to take advantage of the ideal pheasant habitat on the property. Officer Curinga coordinated with Frank Dingman and Bob Davis from the Rensselaer County Conservation Alliance, along with Stacy Preusser from DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife to organize the youth hunt and secure birds for the event. Ten registered youth hunters and three volunteer dog handlers participated in the hunt, including DEC Region 4 Wildlife Manager Clark and his dog Blue. Thirty additional pheasants were stocked on the property for the hunt and many of the young hunters successfully harvested at least one pheasant each while hunting with a dog for the first time.
  • ECOs assisted the Green County Federation of Sportsmen with their annual youth pheasant hunt in the town of Greenville. Nineteen local youth hunters attended the event along with their parents, mentors, and other local hunting volunteers. Youth hunters received instructions on firearms safety before heading afield. Lieutenant Glorioso and ECOs Palmateer, Smith, and Hameline interacted closely with the young hunters, ensuring a safe and fun day for all involved. The event ended with an afternoon barbecue.

ECO speaking to group on people
ECO Curinga provides a safety briefing before youth pheasant hunt in Rensselaer County

ECOs speaking to group of people
ECO Mike Hameline, Mikaela Hameline (K9 handler) along with ECOs Palmateer and Smith reiterate safety instructions to youth hunters

K9 Demo – Hamilton County
On Sept. 21, ECO LaCroix and K9 Web attended the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 44th Annual Conservation Field Day. Officer LaCroix provided the youth in the audience with a brief history of the Division of Law Enforcement’s K9 Unit and explained how police dogs assist ECOs in their duties. He then showed the approximately 90 attending students the different disciplines in which K9 Web is trained.

ECO speaking to group of kids sitting on grass
ECO LaCroix and K9 Web putting on a show for students in Hamilton County

North Creek Outdoor Show – Warren County
On Sept. 23, ECOs LaPoint and Brassard attended the North Creek Outdoor Show in Warren County, which showcases local hunters, trappers, anglers, and outdoor adventurers in the area. Booths at the event provided information on several topics including local taxidermy, fly fishing, rafting, and guiding. The event also featured firearms safety instructions and activities for children. ECOs interacted with attendees and fielded questions about the job duties of an ECO.

Two ECOs at an event table
ECO Brassard (left) and Eco LaPoint (right) manning ECO table

Bambino Boa – Bronx County
On Sept. 26, while on patrol, ECOs Ableson and Goonan received reports of a large snake in Macombs Dam Park next to Yankee Stadium. The Officers responded to the location with members of the New York Police Department and discovered a group of onlookers around a five-foot boa constrictor. The snake had duct tape around its mouth and was likely an abandoned pet. The Officers transported the constrictor to the Animal Care Centers for New York City; the snake was later placed with a rehabilitator.

Boa wtih tape around it's mouth being held be someone
Boa constrictor recovered near Yankee Stadium by ECOs

Business Owner Busted – Schenectady County
On Oct. 3, a business owner in Schenectady County accepted a guilty plea and paid a penalty for Environmental Conservation Law violations committed earlier this year. On April 18, ECOs Willson and DeAngelis assisted Glenville Police with the execution of a search warrant on property located off Scotch Bush Road in Glenville. The property owner operates a taxidermy business. Officers observed and documented violations including the improper disposal of animal parts susceptible to Chronic Wasting Disease, failure to keep taxidermy records as required, and failure to report game harvest as required. In addition to accepting the guilty plea, the defendant paid a $525 fine imposed by the judge. The defendant and their attorney are cooperating with Glenville Police regarding multiple charges of petit larceny and an alleged scheme to defraud taxidermy customers.

Deficient conditions of taxedermy business under a tent
Deficient conditions documented during execution of warrant at Schenectady County taxidermy business

ECO Detains Suspect in Alleged Stabbing Death – Staten Island
On Oct. 6., a member of the public approached ECO Farner in Staten Island and pointed out an alleged suspect believed to be involved in a stabbing incident on an MTA bus. Officer Farner and a retired New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant also in the area at the time of the incident approached the juvenile and temporarily restrained him near the intersection of Hylan Boulevard and Littlefield Avenue in Staten Island until members of the NYPD arrived. The suspect was turned over to the NYPD. Police allege the 14-year-old subject fatally stabbed a 13-year-old individual following a dispute.

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