DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

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 DEC 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:

Falconer’s Hawk Found – Greene County
On Nov. 6, ECO Anthony Glorioso was contacted by a resident in the town of Cairo who reported a hawk behaving strangely near his house. ECO Glorioso arrived and located a non-native hawk perched in a tree. A closer look revealed the hawk had a bell on its leg, leading the ECO to believe a licensed falconer may have lost their captive hawk. ECO Glorioso knows of a falconer living a few miles away, and upon arriving at the man’s house, the falconer excitedly asked, “You found my bird?” The two drove to the location and safely captured the hawk, which had been missing for three days after high winds had blown it off course during a training flight. The Harris Hawk, a native to the southwestern United States, would have not survived the coming winter if it had not been found.

Illegal Hunting on Federal Property – Saratoga County
On Nov. 7, ECOs Rob Higgins and Steve Shaw received an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen in the town of Milton who believed that multiple individuals would be trespassing and hunting the next morning on the Knolls Kesselring site, which is federal property. The ECOs made a quick plan to meet early the next morning and set up before daylight where the hunters would most likely enter the property. At daylight on Nov. 8, three men were spotted walking down a trail when the ECOs made their presence known. The men were all carrying rifles and all three were charged with possessing firearms afield during the Southern Zone bow season and trespassing on posted property. Charges are pending in the Town of Milton Court and additional charges may be filed pending further investigation.

Teamwork Makes Police Work – Sullivan County
On Nov. 7, ECO Michael Hameline was contacted by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and asked to help with a case under investigation. The deputies had been called to an address in Rock Hill for a trespassing complaint, where they believed the responsible party had illegally killed a deer with a crossbow. By the time ECO Hameline arrived at the scene, the deputies had the responsible party in custody for the trespassing issue. An eight-point buck shot with a crossbow was found dead in an adjacent neighbor’s yard. The officers determined that the responsible party did not possess the proper licenses to hunt in the early crossbow season and did not have permission to discharge a crossbow within 250 feet of the complainant’s dwelling. The individual was arraigned in Town of Thompson Court for the criminal trespassing and ECL violations, and the deer was seized as evidence.

Poacher without a Conscience – Oneida County
On Nov. 10, ECOs Rob Howe and Jeff Hull responded to a poaching complaint in the city of Rome. The ECOs located the suspect who had just killed two deer, a buck and a doe, with a crossbow. The ECOs determined the suspect did not have the required license to hunt with a crossbow. The officers also discovered the suspect had taken two deer earlier in the season. The ECOs seized the two deer at the scene, donated them to a local game dinner, and issued tickets for hunting without a license, taking big game in excess of the bag limit, illegally killing protected wildlife, failing to report deer harvest, and lending carcass tags to another hunter. The Rome Police Department helped in the case, which is pending in the City of Rome Court.

Eagle on the Parkway – Westchester County
An alert driver travelling on the Taconic State Parkway on Nov. 14, spotted a bald eagle that appeared to be in distress and notified DEC. ECO Craig Tompkins responded and found two citizens pulled over on the shoulder of the road, covering the eagle with towels to help keep it calm until help arrived. ECO Tompkins used the towels to pick up the large bird and transfer it to his patrol vehicle, where it was placed inside a carrier. The eagle was brought to a local wildlife rehabilitator for treatment, where the four-year-old eagle tested positive for lead poisoning. The rehabilitator began treatments immediately to nurse the eagle back to health.