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."
Illegal Dumping Brings Pricey Penalty - Suffolk County
DEC recently issued an enforcement decision that included a $300,000 penalty against a Long Island company for operating an illegal solid waste facility in Wyandanch, Suffolk County. This enforcement action is the result of an investigation by the Division of Law Enforcement, in coordination with DEC experts from the Division of Materials Management. DEC first responded to a complaint about Stasi Industries in 2019, and determined the company demolished two buildings at 271 Merritt Avenue and then illegally dumped and buried thousands of cubic yards of construction and demolition (C&D) debris at the site without the required DEC permits. The investigation showed the dumping likely commenced in or around March 2017.
Textbook Dumpster Fire - Schenectady County
A Schenectady County man recently paid a penalty for illegally dumping and burning solid waste. While on patrol in the town of Duanesburg, ECO Willson spotted smoke in the distance and called Lieutenant DeAngelis for assistance. The Officers identified the smoke as coming from a local business off Western Turnpike and responded to the site. At the scene, they found two on-site dumpsters, one of them on fire with solid waste inside. When ECO Willson advised the property owner of the laws preventing the burning of solid waste, the man questioned the definition of "solid waste." The subject also objected to the Officer being on his property without a warrant. Officer Willson explained that no warrant is required for the enforcement of a violation committed in plain view and issued two tickets to the man for open burning and illegal disposal of solid waste. In court, the defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of illegal disposal of solid waste with a fine of $3,710.
2022 Youth Pheasant Hunt - Genesee County
On Oct. 8, ECOs Holzle, Koepf, and Rauscher assisted with a youth hunt hosted by Pheasants on the Flats in Batavia. The youth hunters enjoyed the unique opportunity to head afield with experienced hunters and dog handlers. The ECOs taught participants about upland game bird hunting tactics, safe firearm handling, and hunting ethics.
Fresh Water Fishing Derby and Fall Festival - Nassau County
On Oct. 15, ECOs Pabes and Dickson assisted DEC Fisheries employees with the annual 'I FISH NY' Fall Fishing Festival at Hempstead Lake State Park in Nassau County. Fisheries personnel provided participants with rods, reels, and bait, while ECOs patrolled the lake assisting anglers with their catch, fish identification, and freshwater fishing regulations. The Officers also monitored a fish cleaning station set up for use by successful anglers. Nearly a thousand people attended the event.
Team Effort to Find Undersized Blackfish - Suffolk County
On Oct. 17, Dispatch alerted ECOs in Suffolk County to anglers at Robert Moses State Park keeping undersized fish. ECOs Cacciola, Dickson, and Small arrived on scene where they received even more complaints about the illegal activity. The Officers canvased the heavily populated area and checked several anglers to ensure compliance. After numerous checks, the ECOs discovered unlawfully possessed fish in some vehicles returning from the beach, as well as with visitors returning to the parking lots. All together, the responding Officers found several violations including 14 undersized blackfish and individuals fishing without valid Marine Registries.
Illegal Deer Hunting - Nassau County
On Oct. 18, following a multi-day investigation, ECO Kochanowski identified a subject hunting deer in Nassau County, which is closed to deer hunting. Officer Kochanowski determined the subject had unlawfully hunted over a pre-established bait pile of corn. The ECO seized the hunter's bow, trail camera, and arrows, and issued the subject tickets for hunting over a pre-established bait pile, hunting during a closed season, failing to wear a backtag in the Southern Zone, failing to carry tags and a license, and hunting deer with barbed broadheads. The hunter agreed to a consent order the next day and paid a civil penalty of $500.
Hoarding Wildlife - Suffolk County
On Oct. 18, ECOs received a call from the Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals requesting assistance with an animal hoarding case. ECO Dickson and a DEC Wildlife staff responded to a home where they found several bird species. They identified a grackle, American robin, and mourning dove, along with hundreds of other birds such as cockatiels, love birds, finches, and parakeets. A tortoise and several cats were also found. The Suffolk County District Attorney is handling the case with assistance from the ASPCA to ensure appropriate care is given to the animals kept inside the home. It is illegal in New York to possess native and local wildlife.
ECOs Appear on Niagara County Sheriff Update - Niagara County
On Oct. 19, Lieutenant VerHague and ECO Scheer appeared as guests on Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti's monthly interview program that airs on Lockport Community Television. During the interview, Lt. VerHague and Officer Scheer covered several topics including the history of DEC's Division of Law Enforcement and the extensive training required to become an ECO. In addition, the Officers discussed common hunting and fishing complaints encountered in Niagara County. See the interview on LCTV on Demand (leaves DEC website).
Contaminated Material into Freshwater Wetlands - Suffolk County
On Oct. 19, ECOs assisted with a significant environmental violation in Suffolk County. ECO Dickson joined personnel from DEC staff overseeing freshwater wetlands and materials management in responding to a property where a backyard patio had been built without required DEC permits and fill material used as a base to level the backyard included contaminants and garbage. The fill caused sediment to slowly erode into the freshwater wetlands behind the house. Officer Dickson found shards of glass, concrete, plastic, and roofing shingles in the soil and several trees removed and thrown into the wetlands. DEC issued a Notice of Violation to the property owner requiring the subject to remediate damage done to the freshwater wetland and notified him of the requirement to obtain DEC approval and appropriate permits to ensure no damage is done to the environment.
Environmental Conservation Police / U.S. Coast Guard Joint Effort - Suffolk County
On Oct. 21, Lieutenant Reilly received a complaint about a fishing boat keeping undersized blackfish in the Fire Island Inlet. Lt. Reilly requested ECO DeRose head out to try and locate the vessel. As Officer DeRose approached the area, he contacted the U.S. Coast Guard station in Fire Island for assistance. When Officers identified the vessel and tried to pull up alongside it, the vessel took off, attempting to get away. Anglers on board began dumping fish back into the water despite ECO DeRose's repeated commands to stop. Once on board, Officer DeRose and members of the U.S. Coast Guard found undersized fish hidden in different locations on the boat. After questioning the six people on board, the Officer issued 11 tickets for violations including possession of undersized blackfish, over the daily limit of blackfish, failure to possess a valid Marine Registry, and a misdemeanor charge for dumping upon signal to stop. All tickets are returnable to Suffolk County First District Court.
Yellowfin Tuna and Black Sea Bass Offshore Enforcement - Atlantic Ocean
On Oct. 22, Lieutenant Auguscinski and ECOs Milliron and Parmelee conducted an offshore boat patrol targeting Highly Migratory Species (HMS) vessels in the Atlantic Ocean's Economic Exclusion Zone, the zone where the U.S. and other coastal nations have jurisdiction over natural resources. The Officers checked several boats and found two in possession of undersized black sea bass smaller than the federal size limit of 12.5 inches. One vessel, with six yellowfin tuna on board, failed to present a current HMS permit, required by federal law. ECOs referred three violations of federal regulations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service for investigation and prosecution.
Illegal Charter Found with Unlawful Fish During Striped Bass Tournaments - Atlantic Ocean
On Oct. 22, while several striped bass tournaments were underway, ECOs Dickson, Cacciola, and Perkins conducted marine fishing enforcement actions on the Great South Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The Officers inspected several boats near bridges, jetties, inlets, and out to the State's artificial reefs. During the checks, the ECOs discovered several violations including undersized blackfish and striped bass, operating a charter without a charter license, and fishing without a Marine Fishing Registry. The Officers wrote several tickets and educated anglers about fishing regulations and proper safety gear, and reminded them to not tie off their vessels to bridges or within the 300-foot zone of the Coast Guard station in case of an urgent deployment.
Suffolk County Annual Youth Waterfowl Hunt Orientation
On Oct. 22, ECOs DeRose, Paschke, and Della Rocco taught Waterfowl Hunting Laws and Safety at the Suffolk County Annual Youth Waterfowl Hunt Orientation. The training is held prior to the annual Youth hunt weekend in November. The New York Conservation Officers Association donated hearing protection for each participant at the range. ECO DeRose also gave a demonstration of K-9 Cramer's capabilities, including wildlife detection, shell casing detection, and suspect control/custody. ECOs Paschke and Della Rocco performed a Waterfowl Hunter check, educating young participants about the hunting experience and how to respond when they see an ECO while afield. The ECOs assisted with Duck Identification, shooting trap at the range, and boater safety while waterfowl hunting. The class of 23 ranged from 12 to 15 years of age from DEC Regions 1, 2, and 3.
Illegal Activity Under the Bridge - Nassau County
On Oct. 23, ECO Pabes conducted surveillance on a group of anglers fishing under the first Wantagh Parkway bridge and observed a subject walk out from under the bridge with a bag that appeared to have fish inside. In the time it took ECO Pabes to move from the south side of the bridge to the north, the anglers were beginning to pack up and leave and a vehicle pulled up alongside the group. Officer Pabes approached the vehicle but no one in the fishing party had any fish. He called ECO DeRose and requested K9 Cramer assistance to search the area. K9 Cramer quickly alerted the Officers to something in nearby vegetation-a bag containing three undersized blackfish. The ECOs ticketed two anglers in the group for possessing undersized blackfish and ticketed the driver of the car for parking on the side of the parkway. The tickets are returnable to Nassau County First District Court.
Jacklighting Poacher Caught Red-Handed - Ulster County
On Oct. 23, ECO Walraven was patrolling local farm fields at night in the town of Wawarsing looking for poachers when he observed a pickup truck driving slowly by a field, shining a spotlight. From his position, Officer Walraven saw the poacher exit his vehicle and shine the spotlight on a group of deer close to the road before using a crossbow to shoot at the deer. When ECO Walraven pulled the man over, the subject admitted the crime, and he was charged with using a spotlight while in possession of an unsecured crossbow, attempting to take wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle, discharging a crossbow on a public highway, attempting to take deer during closed hours, failing to carry a hunting license, attempting to take deer with an illegal implement, hunting deer with an artificial light, and attempting to unlawfully take protected wildlife. ECO Walraven's investigation determined the poacher likely missed his intended target. All tickets issued are returnable to the Town of Wawarsing Court.
Truck Rollover - Ulster County
On Oct. 24, ECO Grose received reports from Ulster County 911 about a rollover involving a fuel truck in the town of Olive. The truck was carrying approximately 2,850 gallons of fuel oil and had overturned on its roof. ECO Grose responded along with DEC Spill Responders, Olive Police and Fire Departments, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. After several hours of well-coordinated recovery, crews removed the fuel truck from the ditch. The driver suffered minor injuries. However, responders determined the fuel tank was not punctured and none of the fuel oil had leaked into the surrounding New York City watershed. An environmental cleanup company recovered the motor oil that leaked from the truck and onto surrounding vegetation.
Hunts Point Air Quality Truck Detail - Bronx County
On Oct. 26, ECOs Michalet, Parmelee, and Currey, along with Lieutenant Unger, conducted a vehicle emissions detail in Hunts Point. The Officers checked the heavy-duty diesel vehicles for emissions and other environmental violations. In total, they issued 25 tickets for violations including expired diesel emissions inspections, depositing oil onto a roadway, diesel exhaust leaks, no heavy-duty vehicle safety inspections, and commercial vehicle equipment safety violations. All tickets issued are returnable to Bronx County Court in November.
Deer Entanglement - Suffolk County
On Oct. 26, ECOs Perkins and Kaufherr arrived in East Islip to investigate a complaint of two adult male deer entangled by the antlers in a piece of netting. Upon arrival, the ECOs discovered one deer deceased and the other healthy, but unable to break free from the netting. After brief deliberation, the ECOs executed a plan to rescue the live deer. ECO Kaufherr successfully captured one of the antlers of the live deer with a catch pole and once controlled, Officer Perkins moved in and grabbed the deer by the antlers, holding it down while he used a multi-tool with shears to cut lose the netting. The deer was quickly liberated from the net and ran into the woods with no sign of injury.
Evening Striped Bass Complaint - Richmond County
On Oct. 27, ECO Traynor and Lieutenant Auguscinski responded to a complaint of two men taking striped bass over the limit. Upon arrival, the Officers observed two anglers catching and hiding fish in a garbage bag in nearby bushes. The ECOs waited patiently until the two men packed up and brought the fish back to their car. The Officers discovered a total of 11 striped bass and ticketed the anglers for failure to carry a marine registry and possession of over the daily limit of one striped bass per day from waters of the marine district, returnable to Richmond County Court.
Women In Law Enforcement Conference - Monroe County
On Oct. 26, DEC Division of Law Enforcement Director Karen Przyklek, along with other division members, attended the 11th annual New York Women in Law Enforcement training conference in Fairport. Conference attendees had the opportunity to network with hundreds of other women from various law enforcement agencies around New York State and discussed some of the issues facing women in law enforcement today, including recruitment and retention.
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 [email protected] (for non-urgent violations).