< Back

DEC Contact: Jomo Miller (518) 357-2077

February 15, 2024


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 2023, the Division of Law Enforcement fielded more than 101,500 calls, resulting in Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responding to more than 30,932 complaints and working on cases that resulted in nearly 16,900 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 from Brooklyn to Buffalo and beyond work around the clock to protect our environment, safeguard public health, and hold law breakers accountable,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “As DEC continues its efforts to build a Police force more reflective of the communities they serve, the public can rest assured that our Officers, in partnership with representatives of local, State, and federal law enforcement agencies, continue to enforce New York’s stringent Environmental Conservation Laws.”


Poaching Trio Convicted - Greene County

On Jan. 8, ECOs concluded a case involving three individuals charged in connection with late-night poaching in the Earlton area during the 2022 big game hunting season. 


ECOs Smith and Palmateer investigated the illegal deer hunting complaints and observed a vehicle utilizing a spotlight to illuminate several fields within 500 feet of residences just after midnight on Dec. 10, 2022. The Officers stopped the vehicle after witnessing the driver shine a spotlight on a white-tailed deer and pursue it with the vehicle. During the stop, ECOs saw three subjects inside the vehicle--the driver and passenger in possession of spotlights and a backseat passenger in possession of a loaded .22 caliber rifle. A criminal history check revealed the backseat passenger was a convicted felon, prohibited from possessing firearms. 


The investigation led the Officers to a nearby residence shared by the driver and backseat passenger. ECOs observed several recently harvested untagged deer carcasses and a warrant was issued to search the property. The search uncovered a total of 13 deer carcasses, firearms, packaged venison, and crossbow bolts, all seized as evidence.  


The three subjects were charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, using a spotlight on lands inhabited by deer within 500 feet of a dwelling without permission, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, using a spotlight while in possession of an unsecured firearm, and hunting deer after legal hours. The driver and backseat passenger were also charged with 13 counts of illegally possessing protected wildlife parts and the unlawful disposal of solid waste. The backseat passenger received additional charges for hunting deer with rimfire ammunition and criminal possession of a weapon. 


All three defendants were ordered to pay $4,600 in penalties in the Town of Coxsackie Court. ECOs were assisted by DEC’s Wildlife Health Unit, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and Greene County District Attorney’s Office. 


Animal House – Nassau County

On Jan. 23, the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) requested ECO assistance with a subject hoarding more than 100 animals inside his North Bellmore residence. ECO Pabes responded and discovered the subject illegally in possession of several regulated species including an endangered tiger salamander, two monitor lizards (venomous reptiles), and protected diamondback terrapin. The subject led the Officer to a North American opossum caged in his bedroom, as well as other animals throughout the house, including prairie dogs, tarantulas, snakes, tortoises, chickens, domesticated ducks, a peacock, crayfish, and an African snail, in addition to numerous cats and dogs. The Nassau County SPCA seized all unlawfully possessed animals and turned them over to licensed wildlife rehabilitators. ECO Pabes issued the subject five tickets for illegal possession of endangered wildlife, illegal possession of protected wildlife, and illegal possession of dangerous wildlife, all returnable to Nassau County First District Court. 


Basement in Nassau County home to variety of animals (photo attached)


Endangered tiger salamander discovered in Nassau County home (photo attached)


North America opossum found in Nassau County (photo attached)


Seized Shellfish – Queens County

On Jan. 23, ECO Traynor of the Region 2 Marine Enforcement Unit, with help from ECOs Ableson and Milliron, conducted regulatory inspections of seafood wholesalers around Queens County. During one inspection, the Officers encountered a commercial wholesaler buying shellfish at market, breaking up the packages, and reselling smaller amounts of clams and mussels. DEC has stringent regulations surrounding the harvest and resale of shellfish to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Visit https://dec.ny.gov/things-to-do/shellfishing/safety to learn more. Repackaging and selling shellfish in this manner requires several permits that the store owner failed to acquire. The Officers seized nearly 1,500 clams and 120 pounds of mussels and destroyed the shellfish because the origin and destination of the shellfish could not be safely traced. ECOs issued a Notice of Violation to the store owner, who could face additional enforcement action.  


Open and mixed bags of shellfish discovered in Queens County store (photo attached)


ECO Traynor, Marine Enforcement Unit, documents large seizure of shellfish at Queens County wholesaler (photo attached)


Tale of the Tape at New York Boat Show – New York County

From Jan. 24 to 27, ECOs from Region 2 joined DEC employees from Fisheries and Marine Resources at the New York Boat Show at the Javits Center in Manhattan to discuss upcoming changes to recreational and commercial fishing regulations. At the Boat Show young anglers had the opportunity to learn about New York’s fishing regulations to help ensure compliance and could “reel” in a replica fish and measure it with assistance from an ECO to determine if the fish would be a keeper or not. Anglers abiding by regulations received fun prizes including “I Fish NY” bracelets and stickers. For more information on any changes to New York’s recreational fishing regulations, visit: Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations - NYDEC 


New York County ECO Ableson at the New York Boat Show (photo attached)


Lost and Found - Suffolk County

On Jan. 24, ECO Kaufherr, with assistance from Forest Ranger Gagne, located an individual who had lost his way while out for a hike in the hamlet of Rocky Point. Officer Kaufherr first discovered a vehicle parked on Currans Road while patrolling during the Long Island big game shotgun/muzzleloader season and noticed an iPhone, miscellaneous items, and $250 on the hood. The vehicle, cold to the touch, had garbage, clothes, books, and old food inside and contained an ID with a name and date of birth. Officer Kaufherr called the number and spoke to the parents of the young man who had parked the car in the area. He and Forest Ranger Gagne then devised a plan to search the area. They eventually found the subject, wet and muddy, but thankfully safe and unharmed. The subject had gone for a hike, forgot his belongings, including his cell phone, and ultimately got lost in the woods. 


Lost hiker, safe at his vehicle after being located by ECO Kaufherr and Forest Ranger Gagne in Suffolk County (photo attached)


Skunk Whisperer - Cattaraugus County

On Jan. 27, ECO Powers received a phone call from a concerned quail hunter who reported witnessing a large skunk inside a live trap near a ditch on Traffic Road in the town of Otto. It appeared whoever trapped the skunk abandoned the animal and trap to avoid getting sprayed. Officer Powers responded, located the distressed skunk, carefully walked up to the trap, maneuvered it to avoid being sprayed, and opened the door. After some initial hesitation and assistance from the Officer, the skunk wandered off unharmed. ECOs encourage individuals who trap an animal they are uncomfortable approaching to contact DEC for assistance.  


Skunk caught in trap in Cattaraugus County (photo attached)

Skunk set free from trap in Cattaraugus County (photo attached)


It’s Rabbit Season, But Not Here - Suffolk County

On Jan. 27, ECO Zullo responded to a report of an individual walking with a long gun and hunting vest on a property in the town of Southold only open to bowhunting for deer. Officer Zullo requested assistance from Southold Police to canvass the area for the hunter. The ECO eventually spotted a pickup truck leaving the area, stopped it, and confirmed the driver was the same individual reportedly walking with the long gun. The subject admitted to unlawfully hunting rabbit on the property and received an appearance ticket for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and a summons for hunting in a restricted area, both returnable to Southold Town Justice Court. ECO Zullo also discovered two field-dressed rabbits in the back of the suspect’s truck, as well as the loaded black shotgun in the backseat of the vehicle. 


Shotgun, shotgun shells, and rabbits seized as evidence in Suffolk County (photo attached)


Big Game Hunter Makes Big Mistake - Suffolk County

On Jan. 31, ECO DeVito conducted compliance checks on hunters taking advantage of the last day of the special big game firearms season on Long Island. The Officer checked a hunting party that exited the woods at Montauk State Park and observed one hunter who did not unload his shotgun prior to placing it into the back seat of a vehicle. ECO DeVito took possession of the firearm and discovered the hunter had left two rounds in the magazine tube and one round in the chamber. The Officer cleared the firearm and documented the evidence before ticketing the hunter for possession of a loaded firearm in/on a motor vehicle. 


Firearm discovered in the backseat of a vehicle in Suffolk County (photo attached)


Career Fair - Suffolk County

ECOs in Suffolk County visited students from preschool to eighth grade recently, explaining their careers in DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement and duties to protect the environment and enforce New York State Environmental Conservation Law. On Jan. 31, ECOs Kaufherr and Paschke visited students at Rocky Point Middle School where they answered questions and showed students a video of what training academy is like for recruits trying to become an ECO. A few days later, on Feb. 1, Officer DeVito and Investigator Eastwood attended a career fair at St. John Paul II Regional School in Riverhead, where they fielded questions from students and described a ‘day in the life’ of an Officer or Investigator.


ECO DeVito (left) with Investigator Eastwood and his daughter, a student (right, center) at career fair in Riverhead, Suffolk County (photo attached)


Illegal Dumpsite Shut Down – Dutchess County  

On Feb. 5, ECOs Walraven and Chomicki successfully concluded an investigation into a solid waste dumping case in the village of Wappingers Falls. A local landlord had allowed his property to be used as a dump site for construction and demolition debris left over from a renovation project instead of properly disposing of the waste at an authorized solid waste management facility. The property borders and slopes precariously toward Wappingers Creek. The landlord was charged with operating a solid waste management facility without a permit and ordered to clean up the mess. The charge carries potential fines of $1,500 to $15,000 per day or imprisonment. The ticket is returnable to the Village of Wappingers Falls Court. 


Unauthorized waste disposal site in Wappingers Falls (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).


Connect with DEC on: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram

This is a message from NYS.

Copyright © 2024 New York State. All rights reserved. | Our Privacy Policy