New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) have highlighted recent actions across New York city
DEC reports in a statement released on Thursday October 29, 2020, that in 2019, the 288 ECOs across the state responded to 25,704 calls and worked on cases that resulted in 16,855 tickets or arrests for crimes ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.
“From Montauk Point and 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 DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“Our ECOs have worked arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes, for far longer than the 50 years since DEC was created.
“These officers are critical to achieving DEC’s mission to protect and enhance our environment and I am confident they will continue this important mission for the next 50 years and beyond,” he added.
On Oct. 9, Region 5 Wildlife staff requested help from ECOs with the removal of a young bull moose trapped in a 200-acre cow pen in the town of Clinton, Clinton County.
Lieutenant Maloney and ECO Brassard, Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) drone pilots, located the moose in the pasture using an aerial drone equipped with thermal imaging cameras.
Once located, DEC’s tranquilization team, led by Big Game Biologist Jim Stickles, chemically immobilized the moose. Lieutenant Phelps, along with ECOs LaCroix, Buffa, Fadden, and members of the property owner’s family assisted the wildlife crew with removing the moose from the pasture and safely relocating it a short distance away.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 18, DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement dispatch received a complaint about four men in Eighteen Mile Creek spearing and netting salmon.
The complainant reported that two of the men scared the salmon while the other two men speared the fish. The caller shared a description of the poachers and waited for responding units.
The responding ECO contacted the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office for assistance on scene. When the Officers arrived, they spotted one of the men bringing salmon and a spear to a vehicle. The responding Officers detained the subject until the ECO arrived.
The suspects face charges of fishing without a valid license, taking fish by means other than angling, illegal possession of spear on closed waters, fishing a half-hour after sunset until a half-hour before sunrise, and disturbing of waters with intent to drive fish.
On Oct. 23, Lieutenant Fay organized a joint firewood / invasive species checkpoint at the entrance to Robert H. Treman State Park in the town of Ithaca with a team of Zone 4 ECOs and Foresters from the DEC Division of Lands and Forests. Team members checked incoming campers for firewood transported more than 50 miles, which is a violation of state law. During the detail, the ECOs and DEC staff confiscated two bundles of firewood.
The responsible parties were unaware of the regulations but after being educated about the transport of invasive pests in untreated firewood, freely turned in the unlawful firewood for proper destruction.
October is National Firewood Awareness Month and the DEC Division of Law Enforcement is assisting agency partners with outreach, education, and enforcement of firewood transportation regulations.
Many people bring firewood as they head out to camp, hunt, or enjoy the great outdoors, but most don’t realize their wood may be hiding the eggs, larvae, spores, adults, or even seeds of invasive threats. Transporting infested firewood allows invasive species to spread further and faster than these pests could on their own.
On Oct. 25, ECO Kostuk responded to a call from Cortland County 911 for two lost hikers in Cuyler Hill State Forest in the town of Truxton. When Officer Kostuk arrived on the scene, he spoke to the son of the lost hikers, who stated he became separated from his parents when they chose to avoid hiking a more difficult section of the trail.
The son provided ECO Kostuk with his parents’ last known location and the Officer went to work. Coordinating with Cortland County Dispatch, the ECO eventually located the couple at a lodge just off the main Finger Lakes Trail. Both hikers were in good health, albeit shaken up.
ECO Kostuk escorted the pair out of the woods and back to their vehicle, where they were reunited with their son.