New York Outdoor News Cuffs and Collars – Sept. 8, 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.)
On April 11, ECO Jason Smith received a tip that a juvenile American alligator was listed for sale on the Internet in Bronx County. Smith responded to the posting, called the seller, and confirmed the price and a time and location to purchase the alligator. On April 18, ECOs Zach Brown and Smith met the seller at his residence, with ECOs Charles Eyler III and Adam Johnson a short distance away in uniform. Once the presence of the live alligator was confirmed, the ECOs announced themselves as conservation police officers and secured the animal for transport to a permitted educational facility. The seller was issued a summons for possession of the alligator, returnable to Bronx Criminal Court.
Read the sign, more closely
On the evening of April 14, ECO Rob Higgins was off duty, driving along the Kayaderosseras Creek in the city of Saratoga, when he noticed a vehicle parked on the side of the road. The lower section of the creek is closed to fishing at that time of the year to protect spawning walleye. Higgins walked down the creek a short distance and found two men fishing. Higgins asked them if the walleye were running yet and one of the men replied that he wasn’t sure, but he “hooked into something big.” The man then pointed to the sign right next to him, which read that fishing was prohibited during the closed season for walleye. He believed the sign meant that only walleye fishing was prohibited, not all fishing. Higgins contacted ECO Mark Klein, who was on duty at the time. Klein arrived and advised the two men that they were in violation for fishing the closed section of the Kayaderosseras Creek. One man was issued a violation for fishing without a license and another violation for fishing in the closed section of the Kayaderosseras Creek. The other man was also issued a violation for fishing in the closed section of the creek.
Right place, right time
On April 16, ECOs Darci Dougherty and Jerry Kinney were on patrol in the town of Charlotte when they noticed a pickup truck with a trailer attached parked near a large pile of construction and demolition debris that did not appear to come from the property. The officers spoke with the property owner, who stated the waste had come from another property he owned in North Collins and that he intended to burn the waste. The ECOs found painted wood, plywood, plastic and floor molding in the pile. The property owner was ticketed for the illegal disposal of solid waste, returnable to the Charlotte Town Court.
Illegal fishing for herring
On April 16, ECO Jason Curinga received a call that someone was netting herring in the Poestenkill River in Troy. Curinga responded and observed a fisherman in the river throwing a case net into the water. The fisherman was found to have taken 22 herring, 12 fish over the limit, and did not have a marine registry license. Curinga issued the fisherman tickets for the illegal use of a net, taking over the limit of herring, and taking herring without a marine registry license. A second fisherman nearby was found to have 15 herring and was issued a ticket for taking over the limit for herring, as well.
Way over the limit
On April 17, ECO Jamie Powers assisted with trout stocking in the town of Sardinia at five locations along Cattaraugus Creek. After the stocking was complete, Powers observed three individuals catching and keeping fish. Two of the fishermen were observed taking fish up to their car, while the third continued to catch fish. Powers approached the fishermen. Initially, the fishermen denied catching more than a few fish but quickly admitted to keeping more than was allowed. One of the individuals caught 11 brown trout and the other two had caught seven trout each. All three individuals were issued summonses for taking more than the daily limit of trout, returnable to the Sardinia Town Court.
Construction and demolition fire
While on patrol on April 17 in the town of Hartland, ECO Josh Wolgast observed a house that appeared to be under renovation and a large fire burning with several black plastic construction bags in it. Wolgast stopped and interviewed two individuals on site. One admitted to starting the fire to burn lath from the renovation. However, the fire contained construction debris and trash of all kinds, including insulation, particle board, plastics, paint cans, and used motor oil. Several mattresses and a couch meant to go into the fire were piled nearby. Wolgast issued two tickets for unlawful disposal of solid waste and the open burning of garbage, both returnable to Hartland Town Court.
Early in the morning on April 19, ECO Matt Krug was notified of a large tire fire in the town of Salem. He responded to the Black Creek Valley Farm, where Salem, Shushan and Hebron volunteer fire departments were battling the blaze. A quick response from the fire departments kept the fire from spreading to the woods or any nearby barns. The fire was started when the owner burned garbage, which spread to the large pile of tires. The owner was issued appearance tickets returnable to the Salem Town Court for unlawful open burning and unlawful disposal of solid waste.
Marine patrol vessel training
From April 3-21, ECOs Emma Carpenter and Chris Amato attended the Suffolk County Police Department’s Standard Marine Patrol Vessel Operation Course. The ECOs trained in the operation of a variety of patrol vessels ranging in size from 20 to 40 feet in length with officers from Suffolk County Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, New York Police Department’s Scuba Team, Long Beach Police Department, East Hampton Police Department, New York State Police and Riverhead Police Department. The course included segments on navigation rules, fighting boat fires, operation of vessels at night and in low-visibility conditions, vessel-to-helicopter hoist operations, emergency water survival and methods for approaching other vessels at high speed.
Youth turkey hunt
On April 22-23, Lt. Matt Lochner and ECOs Josh Crain and Kevin Thomas participated in the Eighth Annual Yates County Youth Turkey Hunt. This year’s event began with a dinner presentation at the Seneca Lake Duck Hunter’s Club, during which Crain and Thomas discussed hunting ethics and firearm safety. The 27 youth hunters received a turkey vest, hat, gloves, facemask, turkey calls, a gun case and Dead Ringer peep sights. The Mossy Oak and Lynch Mob Turkey Calls Pro staff put on a turkey calling seminar to teach the kids how to use the slate calls that Lynch Mob Turkey Calls generously donated to each youth participating in the hunt. After the Sunday morning hunt, during which an impressive 15 turkeys were taken, everyone met up for a picnic lunch. All of the young hunters received prizes ranging from calls and turkey decoys to a lifetime hunting license donated by Eagle Eye Outfitters.
On April 22-23, the Oneida County Sportsman’s Federation, along with ECOs from Oneida, Herkimer, New York, and Richmond counties, held the 7th Annual Oneida County Youth Turkey Hunt at the Cassity Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls. Eight youths and 16 mentors, including ECOs and volunteers, took to the woods early in the morning with hopes of harvesting one of New York’s most coveted game birds. Teams consisted of two adult mentors and one youth. Hunts were conducted in Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties on private property with the permission of the landowners. Six of the eight youths successfully harvested gobblers; the two other young people enjoyed close encounters.
On April 26, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Tony Drahms were checking fishermen along the shoreline of the Hudson River in Croton-on-Hudson when they encountered a group of three anglers. The ECOs watched as one of the fishermen caught two fish, both undersized striped bass. The man did not release the fish as he should have under the rules and regulations of the Environmental Conservation Law. Drahms walked up to the group and introduced himself as an ECO, and one of the men exclaimed, “Oh no!” The ECOs found a total of 12 striped bass between three anglers, with only one of the fish being of legal size. A total of six summonses were issued to the group, all returnable to Croton-on-Hudson Village Court.
Good training and quick thinking
On April 28, ECO David Thomas responded to a 911 call reporting a distressed individual at the intersection of State Route 49 and Depot Road in the town of Constantia. Thomas was the first police officer to arrive on the scene. A crew from Southern Oswego County Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived and together they located a 22-year-old woman unresponsive in the passenger seat of a parked vehicle. A quick evaluation indicated that the victim was likely suffering from an opioid drug overdose. Thomas administered an initial dose of naloxone (Narcan) issued to all Division of Law Enforcement members. A second dose was administered about 10 minutes later after the initial dose failed to sufficiently reverse the opioid effects. The victim was revived by the combined doses and transported by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse for further treatment.