For Release: Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (for non-urgent violations).
Oversized Bluefin Tuna – Nassau County
On the morning of Aug. 22, ECO Reilly received a tip about a vessel out of Island Park taking oversized bluefin tuna. Bluefin tuna over 73 inches were restricted from being caught at that time, both recreationally and commercially, as per National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regulations. ECO Pabes responded to the complaint and spotted the vessel at the East Rockaway Inlet returning from its voyage. ECO Pabes intercepted the vessel as it was docking at Island Park. The crew noticed the ECO approaching and began backing out of the slip as if to evade the Officer. ECO Pabes yelled to the crew to stop and they complied, redocking the vessel at the slip. When questioned on the size of the tuna, the crew claimed it to be 73 inches, when in reality it measured 80 inches. The crew’s permits and information were documented and the federal violations were turned over to NOAA.
Oversized bluefin tuna
Fish Check Nets Violators – Nassau County
On Aug. 23, ECOs Dickson and Perkins conducted a marine fishing enforcement on the south shore of Long Island. During their patrol the Officers checked a popular fishing spot underneath a bridge off the Robert Moses Causeway. While checking the rocky edges of the canal, the ECOs observed two individuals fishing off the shore. The Officers interviewed the individuals and discovered an orange bucket with five small black sea bass. The ECOs continued to investigate and found a cooler in the passenger vehicle containing 16 small black sea bass. They measured the 21 black sea bass and found the largest fish to be only seven inches. The individuals were issued tickets for possession of over the legal limit of three black sea bass, possession of undersized black sea bass, and failure to possess a valid Marine Fishing Registry.
ECO Perkins measuring and counting black sea bass
Seized undersized black sea bass
Injured Great Horned Owl – Suffolk County
On Aug. 25, ECO Small responded to a report of an injured great horned owl. The owl was stuck in a soccer net overnight, and when freed the next day, did not leave. Concerned the owl might be injured, the callers reached out to DEC. ECO Small was able to capture the owl and transport it to a local wildlife rehabilitator. The rehabilitator did not see any noticeable injuries and suspected the owl would be released the next day.
Great horned owl captured
Abandoned Baby Opossums – Suffolk County
On Aug. 25, ECO Small responded to a call after three baby opossums were found in a residential backyard. The babies were seen walking up the driveway earlier that morning, with no sign of their mother. The baby opossums were determined to be too young to be left to fend for themselves, and ECO Small transported them to a local wildlife rehabilitator where they will be given care until big enough to be released.
Baby opossums found in backyard
Rush Hour Rescue – Richmond County
On Sept. 8, while driving westbound on the Verrazzano Bridge during the afternoon rush hour, ECO Currey observed unusual traffic conditions heading eastbound. After a closer look, the ECO spotted a dog running in the far-left lane on the bridge through traffic. The Officer activated his emergency lights and jumped the Jersey barrier just in time to grab the dog. ECO Currey patched up wounds on both back paws that were bleeding profusely before transporting the dog to a local animal hospital. Luckily, the dog had an identification chip, which made it easy to get in touch with his owners. The dog, named Teddy, escaped his owners while on a walk and accidentally ran onto the bridge.
ECO Currey and his new friend Teddy
Car Show – Warren County
Every year, the Adirondack Nationals Car Show brings tens of thousands of spectators to Lake George in Warren County. This year’s car show was held Sept. 8 to 11, and drew a large crowd with visitors from across the country. The Car Show includes vendors, music, awards, fireworks, and a car parade. During this year’s event, ECOs assisted the Warren County Sheriff’s Department with traffic control, public safety, and enforcement duties at the event.
ECOs assist with traffic control at annual car show
Unattended Burns – Greene County
On Sept. 12, while on patrol in the town of Hunter, ECOs Smith and Palmateer noticed a large quantity of white smoke along Route 23A. The Officers located the source of the smoke on an excavated lot nearby, where they observed five large piles of brush ablaze. After attempting to locate someone on the lot without success, the Officers contacted Greene County 911 to dispatch the Hunter Fire Department. The Officers then began to investigate who was responsible for leaving the large burn piles unattended. With assistance from the Hunter Police Department and Greene County 911, the Officers identified the individual, who returned to the site. While interviewing the individual, he presented the ECOs with a Burn Permit for the site issued by DEC’s Division of Forest Protection. The Officers then pointed out the conditions for the permit, one of which is to be in attendance of the burn. The Officers issued the man a ticket returnable to the Town of Hunter Court. The Hunter Fire Department successfully extinguished the fires. To prevent forest fires, it is important to always be in attendance and have preventive equipment and water resources nearby.
Unattended brush fire burns in the town of Hunter
Stranded Boater Rescued – Jefferson County
On Sept. 14, ECO Jackson received a call from the Belleville Fire Department in the town of Ellisburg to assist a man whose boat became stuck in the Lakeview Wildlife Management Area. The stranded man operated a shallow water aluminum “mud boat” as he scouted for waterfowl in preparation of the upcoming veterans’ waterfowl hunting weekend. When the man ventured into extremely shallow water, the boat became stuck in the swamp. After spending several hours trying to free the boat on his own with darkness and exhaustion setting in, the man contacted 911. Officer Jackson responded to the area to assist the fire department, Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office, and New York State Police in locating the stranded man. ECO Jackson found the stranded vessel shortly after launching his own boat. The man left his vessel and started working his way east toward the barrier dune and Lake Ontario. The Fire Department contacted the man by cell phone to guide him back to ECO Jackson’s waiting rescue boat. The man did not suffer any injuries but was exhausted. He returned to the boat launch the next day with friends and safely recovered his boat.
Women and Firearms – Suffolk County
On Sept. 18, ECOs Small and Anderson attended a firearm educational event in the town of Babylon. The event, hosted by the Suffolk Alliance of Sportsmen and Old Bethpage Rifle and Pistol Club, focused exclusively on women over the age of 12. The day included presentations on firearm safety and shooting skills. Officers Small and Anderson assisted participants while on the range, giving pointers to those who had never before shot a rifle.
ECOs Small and Anderson with program instructors
ECO Small giving pointers to a new participant
Fall Festival – Erie County
On Sept. 17, ECOs Damrath and Machnica joined 26 organizations at the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve Fall Festival. The festival gives outdoor enthusiasts and kids an opportunity to spend a day in the woods doing hands-on activities involving live animals, native vegetation, arts and crafts, and more. The ECOs discussed hunting and fishing and the vital role those activities play in conservation management.
ECOs Damrath and Machnica at Reinstein Woods’ Fall Festival in Erie County
New Step Bowhunters Course – Suffolk County
On Sept. 18, ECO DeRose assisted DEC Hunter Education staff in hosting their “Next Step” Bowhunters Course. The course involved small group instruction focusing on bow terminology, archery shooting, and bow hunting-specific regulations. Following a short classroom portion, participants received hands on training on archery and plenty of time to shoot at block and 3D targets. The course is designed to offer those that took their safety course, more hands-on-training and experience.
‘New Step’ bowhunters course in Suffolk County
A Watchful Eye – Suffolk County
On Sept. 20, ECO DeRose received a complaint about a fishing party on the Oak Beach jetty. The Officer responded to the area and hid on the adjacent jetty to watch the anglers. A short time later, Officer DeRose observed one of the anglers catch a blackfish and put it in a plastic bag before walking out of sight. He called ECO Perkins for assistance and the Officers strategically approached the fishing party. They searched the group’s tackle, buckets, and cooler, but did not find the fish. Confident the fish was in the area, ECO DeRose called on his trusty partner, K9 Cramer. K9 Cramer searched the area, including the far rocky side of the jetty, and found an out-of-season blackfish in a plastic bag buried under some rocks and vegetation. Officers issued a ticket to the angler who caught the fish for possessing an out-of-season blackfish, returnable to Suffolk County First District Court.
K9 Cramer after successfully locating hidden blackfish
Back to the Wild- Sullivan County
On Sept. 22, a juvenile coyote that spent two months being treated for mange and malnutrition headed back to the wild in good health. ECO Parker originally received a call in July 2022 about a coyote pup with severe mange. Officer Parker transported the coyote to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Creatures Large and Small, where it began treatment. Thanks to the dedication and efforts of the wildlife rehabilitator, the coyote recovered quickly.
Before and after pictures of juvenile coyote
Eagle Rescue – Suffolk County
On Sept. 22, the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) requested assistance from an ECO regarding a report of a bald eagle struck by a vehicle traveling westbound on Sunrise Highway by Exit 58 in Manorville. ECO Perkins arrived on scene, and with assistance from the SCPD Officer, safely captured the juvenile bald eagle and placed it inside a cage. ECO Perkins then transported the eagle to a local rehabilitator for an X-ray and further treatment. The rehabilitator stated the eagle appeared to have suffered an injury to its wing. Unfortunately, after an examination by a veterinarian, the damage was more extensive than expected and the bird was euthanized.
ECO Perkins with injured bald eagle in Suffolk County
Bear Removed from Vehicle – Ulster County
On Sept. 23, ECOs Johnson and Walraven responded to a 911 call about a bear that broke into a vehicle in the town of Hurley. New York State Police shut down Route 28 while ECOs positioned their vehicles at the back end of the vehicle with the bear to create a funnel in a safe direction. The Officers then used a rope to open the back hatch and force the bear out. The animal appeared unharmed, but the vehicle sustained heavy damage. To see a brief video of the bear exiting the vehicle, go to DEC’s website.
Greene County Federation of Sportsmen’s Annual Youth Pheasant Hunt – Greene County
On Sept. 24, Lieutenant Glorioso and ECO Palmateer assisted with the annual Greene County Federation of Sportsmen’s Youth Pheasant Hunt in the town of Greenville. The event hosted 16 youth hunters and their mentors. The Officers utilized ATVs to stock pheasants in the designated hunting areas and then accompanied the youth hunters, along with dog handlers, to provide guidance and support during their hunts. The well-attended event is designed to familiarize young hunters with the joys and challenges that come along with hunting. Additionally, it was an excellent opportunity for them to get hands-on experience with safe handling of firearms while afield.
Youth Waterfowl Hunt – Oneida County
On the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25, Madison County and Oneida County ECOs took a group of local youth hunters for an early season goose hunt. The group spent the first day learning about hunter safety and waterfowl regulations at the Cassidy Hollow Rod and Gun Club. The next day, they headed out to the field and witnessed the many birds in the area respond to the mentor’s call. Four birds were harvested and all involved had a memorable experience.
Youth waterfowl hunting event in Oneida County
Youth hunters pose with their catches at waterfowl hunting event.
Oil and Gas Well Company Pleads Guilty – Cattaraugus County
A year-long investigation of the oil and gas wells operated by Cal-Ban Corporation in Cattaraugus County by ECOs Calanni, Dougherty, Powers, DEC Bureau of Environmental Crime Investigation (BECI) Investigator Piwko, Lieutenant DiPasquale, and DEC Minerals and Petroleum Bulk Storage (PBS) experts lead to 22 misdemeanor criminal charges filed in the town of Allegany. These charges all stemmed from the flagrant disrepair of PBS tanks, oil wells, and gas wells. As part of a plea agreement with Cattaraugus County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Balcom and DEC, Cal-Ban entered guilty pleas to two misdemeanor charges for failing to contain a petroleum spill and failing to keep spill prevention equipment in working order. The company was ordered to pay a total of $16,150 in fines and surcharges. Cal-Ban Corp was also ordered to take steps to prevent any future violations including fixing the many issues with their tanks and wells. If Cal-Ban does not complete activities in the compliance schedule in a manner acceptable to the DEC, the company will be subject to re-sentencing on the charges and face maximum fines of up to $75,000 and up to two years in jail.
Derelict Cal-Ban oil tanks sighted during the investigation
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