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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early September

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2017, the 301 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.
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).

“From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York’s environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers,” said *Commissioner Basil Seggos*. “They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don’t receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC’s mission to protect and enhance our environment.”

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

*Friend in Need – Orange County*
On Sept. 11, ECO Burgess was on patrol when she received a phone call from a local wildlife rehabilitator about an injured owl in the town of Montgomery. She arrived at the location and met a woman who showed her where the grounded owl was hiding. The owl appeared alert, but was unable to take flight. ECO Burgess could see it had an injured eye. Armed with a heavy leather glove and towel, ECO Burgess quickly caught the owl and secured it in a crate. The bird was transported to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center, where it received medical assessment and is being treated for its injuries before being released.

*ECO Burgess holds injured owl*
ECO Burgess with injured owl

*The Fish Don’t Measure Up – New York County*
On Sept. 12, ECOs Brendan Dickson and Max Woyton headed to Manhattan’s Chinatown to conduct fish market inspections, checking the sizes of fish and crustaceans offered for sale. While most were in compliance with state laws and regulations, one of the markets was selling oyster toad fish that appeared to be smaller than the legal limit of 10 inches in length. After measuring the fish offered for sale, the officers determined that six of the fish were undersized. The market was issued a ticket for selling undersized oyster toad fish, returnable to Manhattan Court in New York County.

undersized oyster toad fish
Undersized Oyster Toad Fish seized in Chinatown

*Under the Cover of Darkness – Westchester County*
On Sept. 13, ECO Craig Tompkins was working a late shift patrolling the Long Island Sound for fishing activity when he observed three groups of fishermen along the shores near Playland Park in the city of Rye. From his vantage point, ECO Tompkins could see that a few anglers were having luck catching fish. The groups continued to fish well into the evening, and one by one departed under the cover of darkness. The officer approached each group as they were walking back to their vehicles to check their catch, finding a total of three out of season blackfish, three undersized striped bass, one undersized black sea bass, and three undersized porgy. Six tickets were issued for the out of season and undersized fish. The tickets are returnable to the City of Rye Court.

An Evenings Worth of Illegal Fish
An Evening’s Worth of Illegal Fish

*An Early (and Illegal) Start to Bow Season – Delaware County
*On Sept. 15, ECO Nate Doig and Lt. Nate Ver Hague responded to a complaint of a person hunting deer over a pile of corn in the town of Deposit. The property owner’s son-in-law was in the woods checking on the property when he found a large pile of freshly placed corn on the ground. A short distance away, he found a man hiding in some brush. When asked what he was doing, the man stood up with a bow in his hand and said he was hunting. The son-in-law told the hunter that he was trespassing on private property and contacted the ECOs. When ECO Doig and Lt. Ver Hague interviewed the subject of the complaint, he claimed that he wasn’t actually hunting, but instead was “scouting.” The subject showed the officers several photos of deer he had seen while walking the property. However, the ECOs determined the photos were not taken from the ground but from a tree stand. The subject possessed a camouflage backpack also described by the complainant. The backpack had a drag rope and corn kernels still inside. The man was charged with hunting deer out of season and hunting deer over bait, with the tickets returnable to Deposit Town Court.

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