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 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.
Two-thousand-and-twenty marks 50 years for DEC and 140 Years for New York’s Conservation Police Officers. In 1880, the first eight Game Protectors proudly began serving to protect the natural resources and people of New York State.
"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."
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).
Illegal Turkey Take – Westchester County
On July 27, a Westchester County man appeared in the Town of Mamaroneck Court to answer charges from the illegal taking of a turkey from a roadway. Back on May 7, ECO Schneider responded to a call for assistance from Mamaroneck Police for reports of a turkey shot from the roadway at approximately 7 p.m. ECO Schneider photographed the scene and spoke to a witness who described a van in the area at the time of the shooting and provided a license plate number. The following day, ECO Schneider turned the case over to ECO Tompkins who is assigned to Westchester County. ECO Tompkins interviewed nearby residents who may have witnessed the incident and reviewed video from a homeowner with surveillance cameras pointed at the road where the turkey was believed to have been shot. The videos showed the turkey dead on the side of the road with the van in question stopped as a passenger exited the vehicle and picked it up. ECO Tompkins tracked down the owner of the van, identified as Mark Luceno of Mamaroneck, and spoke to him about the incident. When presented with the evidence, Luceno gave a full written confession describing how he shot the turkey from the side of the road with his compound bow while his wife drove. He was issued six tickets for illegally taking protected wildlife, taking a turkey during closed hours, use of a motor vehicle to take small game, discharging a bow from across a public highway, discharging a bow within 150 feet of a dwelling, and failure to tag a turkey as required by law. Luceno agreed to civil penalties in court and paid a $500 penalty.
On Aug. 12, a concerned personal watercraft rider contacted ECO Perkins reporting an osprey hanging from its nest with its foot wrapped in fishing line. The nest was in the State Boat Channel near the Cedar Beach Marina in the town of Babylon. With help from Town of Babylon Bay Constables, ECO Perkins boarded a boat to reach the nest and used a pair of shears to cut the fishing line tangled around the osprey’s foot. Once free, the osprey flew away without showing signs of injury.
On Aug. 14, ECOs Duchene and Newell responded to Mill Pond in the village of Monroe, Orange County, for reports of a bear in a tree in a busy part of town. When the Officers arrived, they found what appeared to be a yearling bear about 50 feet up a tree. The Monroe Police Department, already on site, assisted with public safety. After a short time, the bear descended the tree and began to run along Mill Pond before climbing another tree along a busy road. DEC wildlife staff members Matt Merchant, Deena Brabant-Oatman, and Jonathan Russell responded, tranquilized the juvenile bear, and removed it from the tree. With help from Monroe Police Chief Guzman and Sergeant Tenaglia, DEC Officers and staff were able to weigh, measure, and tag the juvenile bear before it was transported to nearby State lands and released unharmed.
Tomhannock Clean-up Day - Rensselaer County
On Aug. 15, ECOs Canzeri and Crain teamed up with the Rensselaer County Conservation Alliance to help clean up an area around the Tomhannock Reservoir. The reservoir provides drinking water to approximately 135,000 residents in three counties and is open for fishing year-round. The reservoir is notable for its walleye and carp, including a state record carp exceeding 50 pounds, but also contains healthy populations of black bass, yellow perch, bullhead, chain pickerel, and panfish. DEC maintains a fishing access site at the reservoir and has an agreement with the city of Troy to patrol and enforce laws related to hunting, fishing, pollution, and water quality. ECOs respond to complaints and proactively patrol the 5.5-mile-long waterbody all year. Approximately 47 volunteers participated in the cleanup, including New York State Assemblyman Jake Ashby. ECOs Canzeri and Crain provided health and safety compliance checks on top of assisting with the cleanup efforts. The event went well with beautiful weather and more than 50 full contractor garbage bags were collected.