DEC Contact: Jomo Miller (518) 402-8000
December 07, 2023
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.”
Feed the Hope – Suffolk County
On Nov. 11, ECO DeVito participated in an outreach event through her local church, “Feed the Hope.” Officer DeVito helped hand out bags of groceries with whole turkeys, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products to local food-insecure families. Volunteers handed out 60,000 pounds of fresh food just in time for Thanksgiving, including 1,000 turkeys to families in Suffolk County.
ECO DeVito helps deliver food to families in Suffolk County (photo attached)
Lost Pup in the Woods – Bronx County
On Nov. 17, ECO Ableson teamed up with New York City Urban Park Rangers to patrol Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. Employees of a museum in the park approached Officer Ableson during the patrol to report a loose dog on the museum grounds. The ECO eventually gathered the large husky with no tags or GPS collar, secured the dog in his vehicle, and transported it to the Animal Care Centers of New York City for a checkup and to look for a microchip. With no microchip, the Officer began to lose hope of finding the dog’s owner until he received a call from Urban Park Ranger Rodriguez who advised two men on the trail were looking for their lost husky. A short drive later and the dog, named Mowgli, was reunited with his owners.
ECO Ableson at the Animal Care Centers of New York City with lost dog, Mowgli (photo attached)
Twice in One Week – Orange County
A hunter in Orange County accused of taking deer illegally on two occasions in one week is facing several charges. On Nov. 17, Police Officers in the town of Deerpark requested assistance from ECOs after receiving reports an individual had shot a deer from the roadway. ECO Doroski responded to the location and spoke to the subject who claimed he shot the antlered deer from the roadway with his crossbow because it appeared to be injured. The ECO located the deer and determined it had been shot twice. The Officer then found a second antlered deer taken by the subject with the same crossbow without the license and tags required. Officer Doroski issued several tickets to the hunter for taking two deer illegally, shooting deer from a public roadway, hunting during the crossbow season without a license, and failure to tag as required. Three days later, Deerpark Police contacted ECOs again about an individual hunting deer over bait from the second floor of a residence. ECO Parker and New York State Police Trooper Vonderheide responded to the location and observed an open second-floor window overlooking two bait piles. Officer Parker interviewed the subject and determined it was the same individual charged by ECO Doroski a few days earlier. The Officers located a loaded crossbow and two loaded firearms next to the window, as well as a spent shell casing inside the room. They did not find any deer during the investigation but had enough evidence to charge the subject for intentionally feeding deer and hunting with the aid of bait.
Grandpa’s Tags – Sullivan County
On Nov. 18, ECO Boyes and Lieutenant Bello stopped individuals headed to a butcher shop with a four-point buck, a doe, and a black bear. All the game had been harvested by 10 a.m. that morning on opening day of the regular deer and bear hunting season in New York’s Southern Zone. The two subjects transporting the deer claimed it was harvested by their grandfather. Suspicious of this early-morning success, Lieutenant Bello pried open the buck’s jaws to find a mouth full of ground corn. A subsequent investigation revealed the property where the deer was harvested had been baited with 150 pounds of goat corn by at least five hunters using their grandfather’s tags. The subjects were charged with the illegal take of protected wildlife, hunting deer and bear with the aid of bait, lending tags to another, and possession of a loaded gun in a motor vehicle.
Deer and bear illegally harvested in Sullivan County (photo attached)
“I Just Moved There” – Wyoming County
On Nov. 18, opening day of the Southern Zone regular big game hunting season, Lieutenant Ward encountered three individuals in the town of Warsaw transporting an antlerless deer. Officer Ward checked the hunters and became suspicious when he noticed one member of the group had an Indiana address but possessed New York State hunting and bowhunting licenses. When asked when he moved to Indiana, the hunter replied, “I just moved there.” After further questioning, the subject admitted to moving a year and a half ago. The investigation revealed the hunter purchased his New York State hunting license online in August 2023 using a suspended and expired license as proof of New York residency. ECO Koepf charged the subject with making a false statement while purchasing a New York hunting license. The defendant agreed to settle the matter administratively, received a $200 penalty, and lost his resident hunting license.
Deer Season Road Checks – Allegany/Wyoming Counties
ECOs in Region 9 conducted two separate roadside checkpoints during the first two weekends of the Southern Zone regular big game hunting season. Officers conducted the first checkpoint on Nov. 19 in Wyoming County, focusing on hunters transporting deer on opening weekend. The ECOs conducted a second road detail on Nov. 26 in Allegany County to intercept hunters importing deer from Pennsylvania during the opening days of its firearms deer season. Hunters are prohibited from returning to New York with whole carcasses or intact deer heads of deer, elk, moose, or caribou harvested outside of New York State. Only the deboned meat, cleaned skull cap, antlers with no flesh adhering, raw or processed cape or hide, cleaned teeth or lower jaw, and finished taxidermy products of animals susceptible to Chronic Wasting Disease may be brought into New York. ECOs checked hundreds of vehicles and approximately 40 deer carcasses during both details and issued tickets for charges including the illegal take of antlerless deer, possession of loaded firearms in motor vehicles, and failure to tag deer as required. The Officers also wrote several warnings for transporting deer without a consignment slip from the taker of the deer. Fortunately, most hunters checked during the detail complied with the State’s hunting laws.
ECOs in Wyoming County conduct road checks on hunters transporting deer (photo attached)
Camera Captures Crook – Dutchess County
On Nov. 21, ECOs Johnson and Wamsley received a call reporting a deer shot on private property in the town of Beekman. The Officers arrived at the location and split up to investigate with assistance from the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office. An individual with permission to hunt the property provided Officers with trail camera video of the alleged offender. ECO Johnson identified and interviewed the subject, who admitted to shooting the deer on private property. Meanwhile, a Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff alerted Officer Wamsley to a blood trail that led to the wounded animal. ECOs ticketed the subject for trespass and the illegal take of a big game animal. All tickets are pending in the Town of Beekman Court and the deer was donated to the New York Venison Donation Coalition to help feed the hungry.
ECOs Johnson and Wamsley with illegally taken deer in Dutchess County (photo attached)
Grease Grifters – Westchester County
On Nov. 21, ECO Franz received a call from the New Rochelle Police Department requesting assistance for a case involving two individuals who allegedly stole used cooking oil. The subjects led police on a chase, eventually stopping and dumping 50 to 100 gallons of cooking oil onto the roadway. Officers Franz and Schuck responded to the location and issued tickets to both men for the unlawful disposal of solid waste and depositing a noisome/unwholesome substance on the highway. The New Rochelle Critical Incident Unit cleaned up the spill. There were no impacts to the environment or public health.
Rental van and tanks used to steal used cooking oil (photo attached)
Illegal Clam Sales – Kings County
On Nov. 22, ECO Broughton of the DEC Region 2 New York City Marine Enforcement Unit received a tip from a concerned citizen alleging various dangerous and invasive species being offered for sale in Brooklyn. Officer Broughton reached out to colleagues, including an undercover Officer in the area. The undercover Officer located a storefront along Eighth Street selling blood clams, a species of shellfish banned after being linked to illnesses. ECOs Broughton, Veloski, and Swart also responded to the location to assist and charged the vendor with offering untagged shellfish for sale, a criminal misdemeanor under the State Environmental Conservation Law.
Illegal blood clams and other fish species offered for sale in Brooklyn (photo attached)
On Nov. 22, ECOs Lovgren and Boyes conducted a compliance inspection of a wild game butcher shop in Wurstboro, Sullivan County, and observed a four-point buck that appeared to have been taken from an area with a minimum three-point (on at least one side) antler restriction. The hunter’s license and tag were purchased on the afternoon of the harvest. Lieutenant Bello checked social media for the name on the license and discovered it belonged to a woman in Monticello, Sullivan County. The Officer then visited the subject’s husband’s social media page and found a picture of the husband with the same four-point buck identified in the butcher shop. Officers interviewed the husband who admitted to shooting the deer in Wildlife Management Area (WMA) 3K, which has an antler restriction. He went on to admit that he called his wife after shooting the deer and instructed her to purchase tags. Both husband and wife received several citations including the illegal take of big game without three points on one side and lending tags to another.
Incriminating social media post leads to husband and wife charged in Sullivan County (photo attached)
Thanksgiving Deer Decoy – Warren County
On Nov. 23, Lieutenant Higgins and ECOs LaPoint and Brassard set up a deer decoy to address illegal road hunting in the town of Lake Luzerne. After a slow start, Officer Brassard observed a pickup truck driving slowly down the road toward the deer decoy. ECO LaPoint observed the vehicle stop in front of the decoy with two subjects inside. The passenger loaded his rifle, exited the vehicle, and discharged the rifle at the decoy, hitting it. Officer LaPoint ordered the subject to stop shooting and put his firearm down before he could take a second shot. Lieutenant Higgins and ECO Brassard arrived at the location to assist. The subject was issued several violations including possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and discharging a firearm from a public roadway.
ECO Brassard conducts a roadway stop in Warren County for shooting at a deer decoy (photo attached)
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).