New York Outdoor News Cuffs and Collars — April 21, 2017

(Editor’s note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the state of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.)

River dumping incident
(Tioga County)

On Jan. 7, ECO Brent Wilson was patrolling for duck hunting compliance when he noticed a large pile of garbage floating down the Susquehanna River. Wilson contacted the Campville Volunteer Fire Department to ask for assistance with its airboat so he could retrieve the garbage in order to identify who dumped it. Campville firefighters transported Wilson out to the garbage so it could be secured and brought back to shore. Once on shore, the garbage was determined to be several tarps wrapped together, and no identifying material could be found. Town of Owego crews disposed of the tarps.

Venison for sale on Craigslist
(Chemung County)

In late January, ECOs Shea Mathis and Erik Dalecki began an investigation after finding an ad on Craigslist offering venison for sale in Elmira. Mathis set up a meeting with the seller, posing as a potential buyer. The subject knew that selling venison in New York state was illegal, but said he did it because he “needed the money.” When the subject was confronted with the statutes of the law, he claimed he thought only restaurants couldn’t sell the meat. The subject was issued a ticket for illegally selling venison, returnable to Elmira Town Court.

Striped bass poaching
(Rockland County)

On Jan. 30, ECO Maxwell Nicols received a tip reporting illegal striped bass fishing taking place at the Haverstraw Marina in West Haverstraw. ECO Andrew Kostuk assisted as Nicols conducted surveillance along the Hudson River by foot. One subject was seen catching bass and hiding them in the tall grass along the beach. Nicols was unable to catch up to the man when he took the garbage bags containing the fish to his car. However, Kostuk was able to stop the subject’s vehicle as it attempted to leave the parking lot. Six striped bass were found in the vehicle, and the fisherman was charged with the possession of striped bass out of season. The charges were returnable to Haverstraw Town Court.

Late-night owl rescue
(Westchester County)

On Feb. 1 at approximately 11 p.m., ECO Craig Tompkins received a phone call from a young man who stated he was driving home from a friend’s house when an owl flew into the side of his car. He had stopped his car and found the bird lying in the middle of the road, still alive but injured. As he approached the owl, it hopped onto the shoulder of the road and into the nearby bushes. The young man was able to give the exact location of the injured owl to Tompkins, who went to the location and found the owl on the ground. With the help of ECOs Tony Drahms and Zachary Crain, who were on patrol in the nearby area, the barred owl was captured and brought to the Brewster Veterinary Hospital for treatment and rehabilitation.

Emissions violation
(Queens County)

On Feb. 1, ECOs JT Rich and Evan McFee noticed a cement mixer truck emitting a large cloud of black smoke from its exhaust stack. After driving through the thick cloud of smoke, the ECOs stopped the truck and tested the opacity of the exhaust smoke, using a calibrated smoke opacity meter to determine if the truck was within the legal limit. The ECOs found this particular truck to have an average emission opacity of 96.2 percent, well above the legal 55 percent allowed for the age of the truck. The company that owns the vehicle was issued a summons for an air quality violation returnable to Queens County Court in April.

Snowmobile operators course
(Lewis County)

From Feb. 1-3, the Division of Law Enforcement’s Training Unit hosted a basic snowmobile operator course for ECOs and officers from the Rome Police Department and Oswego County Sheriff’s Department. Attendees were instructed in basic snowmobile operating techniques, snowmobile care and maintenance, effective and tactical patrol techniques, ice and cold weather safety, policy and procedure, and laws relative to snowmobile patrol. The course included one classroom day at the DEC Law Enforcement Training Academy in Pulaski, a day at the Dadville DEC sub-office to hone snowmobile skills, and a day for a training ride on Tug Hill out of Barnes Corners. DEC reminds snowmobilers to ride responsibly and put safety first on the trails.

Deer jacking
(Herkimer County)

On Feb. 3, ECO Darryl Lucas and Lt. Matthew Jacoby were investigating complaints of a recent string of deer jackings in the town of Danube. A tip came in describing a white, four-door sedan poaching deer between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. On patrol at 4:35 a.m., the officers noticed the suspect’s vehicle slowly driving down a road and a passenger shining the fields with a spotlight. As the officers pulled out of a hiding spot to follow, a shot rang out from the vehicle. The officers immediately stopped the vehicle and found it occupied by three men. The ECOs noticed fresh deer hair sticking out of the trunk. Inside was a recently killed doe deer and a shotgun, which had been hidden in the trunk via a trap door in the backseat. The three suspects admitted that they had shot the deer in the trunk earlier that night in the town of Frankfort. The suspects provided additional information that they had taken more deer illegally on prior dates. ECOs Steven Lakeman and Ricardo Grisolini went to the Utica residence of one of the subjects where they recovered two more deer capes from the garage. ECO Corey Schoonover and K-9 Jake were called to the scene of the two shootings to help gather further evidence. The three men were each charged with taking deer with the aid of an artificial light (deer jacking), possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, spotlighting deer while possessing a firearm, and shooting from a public highway. The subjects were arraigned and were to answer the charges in Danube Town Court.

Boating safety
(Richmond County)

On Feb. 5, ECO Mary Grose spoke to a group of a dozen students at the Staten Island Tuna Club about boating safety. Participants ranged in age from 6-14 years old and learned about Personal Flotation Device (PFD) regulations, boating safety, and fishing regulations. Students were able to tour DLE patrol vessel A-12, the “Fitz” and learn about what the Marine Enforcement Unit does to protect and conserve marine resources.

Undersized lobsters seized
(Kings County) 

On Jan. 9, ECOs Mary Grose and Paul Pasciak were performing Joint Enforcement Area (`) checks in seafood warehouses in Kings County. While inspecting NY Fresh Seafood Trading Inc., in Brooklyn, the officers discovered a number of undersized lobsters. Further inspection resulted in a total of 222 undersized lobsters seized and donated to the Bowery Mission’s Men’s Transitional Center in Manhattan. The company was issued an administrative Notice of Violation to settle the offense of possession of undersized lobsters with the Division of Law Enforcement and DEC’s Legal division.

Illegal Doe
(Orange County)

 On Jan. 11, ECO Chris Lattimer completed a month-long investigation regarding a hunter trespassing complaint. A Deerpark resident had a trail camera picture from Nov. 22 of two men dragging a doe off of his property. The resident was unable to identify the two men at the time. On Jan. 11, the complainant called Lattimer and stated that he overheard one of the hunters bragging about the deer at a party. The man shared the name of the hunter with the officer. Lattimer conducted some interviews and located the hunter, who admitted to trespassing on the complainant’s property. He stated that he had shot the deer on a neighboring property and tracked it to the complainant’s property. The hunter stated that he originally thought the deer was a buck and did not realize it was a doe until he found it. He then admitted to not tagging it, as he did not have a Deer Management Permit (DMP) for that zone. The hunter was issued appearance tickets for the illegal taking of protected wildlife and for taking a doe without a permit, returnable to Deerpark Town Court. Both men were also given verbal warnings for trespassing on posted property.

Bass out of season
(Saratoga County)

On Jan. 14, ECO Mark Klein received a call that fishermen on Saratoga Lake were catching bass and sneaking them into their vehicle although bass season was closed. When Klein arrived, he checked the fishermen. All had licenses and there were no obvious violations of the conservation law, but when Klein asked about the bass in their vehicle, they admitted to hiding additional fish and turned them over to Klein. All told, seven bass ranging in size from 13 to 19 inches were seized and the fishermen were charged with taking bass out of season.

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