New York Outdoor News Cuffs and Collars – Nov. 3, 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.)

Eagle summering in boathouse
(Franklin County)

On July 3, ECO Jennifer Okonuk was contacted by a neighbor regarding a young eagle in a boathouse in the town of Bellmont. Okonuk contacted ECO Kevin Riggs and raptor specialist Mark Manske of Adirondack Raptors to assist. The three were able to safely capture the eagle, which Manske believes had been residing in the boathouse for some time. The eagle was not being fed by its parents, based on a breast bone sticking out. Manske transported the eagle to wildlife rehabilitator Wendy Hall. On July 5, Manske contacted Okonuk to inform her that the eagle had been hydrated, and was eating mice and doing well. The eagle was expected to return to full health and be released back to its habitat as soon as possible.

Sunken vessel case
(Sullivan County)

On July 3, ECO Tom Koepf assisted the Sullivan County sheriff’s office with the retrieval of a sunken speedboat on Swinging Bridge Reservoir in the town of Thompson. The vessel’s driver had been traveling at a high rate of speed the previous night and struck a pontoon boat in the middle of the reservoir. The speedboat immediately sunk. Luckily, the passengers on the pontoon boat rescued the two male subjects thrown from the speedboat. Once the pontoon boat made it back to shore, the two male subjects fled the scene on foot before law enforcement arrived. Koepf assisted with the New York State Police and several local fire departments by transporting divers to and from the wreck and providing site security while they worked. The divers located the wreck and attached float bags to bring it to the surface, where it was then towed to shore and removed from the water. The investigation to identify the two subjects continued.

Double duty for DEC K-9
(Sullivan County)

On July 3, ECO Ricky Wood and K-9 Deming responded to a wooded area between the Twin Lakes and Whispering Pines trailer parks in the town of Mamakating to assist the New York State Police with a July 1 shooting complaint. The initial investigation of a noise complaint was believed to involve fireworks, but further investigation revealed the noise was from the discharge of a firearm. The trooper had identified a suspect in the shooting and interviewed him regarding the complaint. It was determined that the suspect had been walking through the woodlot between the two trailer parks and was shooting a shotgun at random trees. One of the shots struck an unoccupied trailer. Wood deployed K-9 Deming to locate spent shell components in the area within 500 feet of the occupied dwellings. K-9 Deming quickly located a spent shell wad, which matched the live rounds possessed by the suspect. The evidence also revealed that the shooter was firing within 500 feet of the occupied dwellings and in the direction of the houses. The suspect was charged by Wood with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling, and charged by the trooper with reckless endangerment 2nd degree and criminal mischief 3rd degree. The suspect was scheduled to appear for arraignment in Mamakating Town Court.

Busy Fourth of July
(Franklin and Fulton counties)

Many boaters on Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks anchor offshore to watch the annual fireworks display on July 4, and ECOs Nate Favreau and Jim Cranker conducted a boat patrol to help ensure boaters safely enjoyed the celebration. Friendly reminders were given to a few boaters to activate their anchor lights, and one boat operator was cited for speeding too close to the shore. ECOs from Fulton, Hamilton, Saratoga and Washington counties also patrolled the Broadalbin boat launch to ensure boaters had a safe holiday weekend. The boat launch has been the scene of numerous violations, generating many complaints in the past. During the four-day holiday weekend, nearly 70 tickets were issued for numerous violations, including improper use of the boat launch site and unregistered trailers. Several arrests were made for driving while intoxicated. All of the tickets were returnable to Broadalbin Town Court.

Uncertified Shellfish
(Queens County)

On July 4, U.S. Park Police contacted ECO Zach Brown about multiple individuals shellfishing in an area of Queens closed to shellfish harvesting. Brown and ECO Jonathan Walraven apprehended four subjects loading their vehicle with approximately 300 hard shell clams and one bushel of mussels. All four subjects were issued a summons for taking shellfish from uncertified waters and the shellfish were returned to the water. On July 9, Brown and Walraven were again patrolling in Queens County when they observed multiple people wading out into the water and digging in the sand at low tide. The ECOs conducted surveillance and counted 17 individuals who appeared to be taking shellfish from the uncertified waters. Division of Law Enforcement Marine Unit members Waldemar Auguscinski and Christopher Macropoulos were called in for assistance. Using the Marine Unit’s Zodiak inflatable boat, the ECOs apprehended all 17 subjects. The ECOs issued each a summons for taking shellfish from uncertified water and seized an estimated 4,000 clams. The clams were returned to the water and the summonses were returnable to Queens County Court.

Wellsville bear
(Allegany County)

On July 5, ECOs Russ Calanni and Jason Powers and Lt. Don Pleakis and Division of Wildlife staff worked to safely remove a bear that had climbed a tree in a residential neighborhood in the village of Wellsville after being hit by a car. Although it was not seriously injured, the bear jumped a fence and took cover in a tree. It started to draw attention from the neighbors, and the decision was made to tranquilize the bear and remove it from the village. Calanni and Powers, members of the Division of Law Enforcement’s Chemical Immobilization Team (CIT), darted the bear and safely removed it from the tree. The Wellsville Police Department stopped traffic along busy State Route 417 while the tranquilizing and removal took place. After loading the bear into a trap, it was transported to Coyle Hill State Forest, where the bear was examined, tagged, monitored and then released.

No child left behind
(Richmond County)

On Sept. 23, ECO Waldemar Auguscinski was patrolling the Upper New York Harbor shorelines of Richmond County when he observed four anglers trespassing on the shoreline in front of Von Briesen Park. The subjects had an inflatable boat and a toddler in a stroller. The anglers paddled away from shore and began fishing, leaving the 1-year-old girl behind on shore in the stroller. NYPD officers from 120th Precinct were called in and arrested the parents of the toddler for endangering the welfare of a child. The little girl was taken by EMS for evaluation and the parents were cited for failure to carry marine registries and insufficient PFDs.

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