New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – Nov. 17, 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.)
A good day to be an ECO
On July 12, ECOs Melissa Burgess, Maxwell Nicols, Kimberly Garnsey, and K-9 Officer Ricky Wood and K-9 “Deming” were invited to the Pine Bush High School Leadership and Law Academy to speak with 90 young people interested in careers in law enforcement. Nicols, Wood, and K-9 Deming showed the versatility and effectiveness of DEC K-9s in spent shell and wild game meat detection and subject apprehension. Burgess and Garnsey answered students’ questions and explained an ECO’s typical work day. The students viewed a wide display of items, including furs of New York’s native species, as well as seized animal products such as ivory, alligator and other protected species. Public outreach events like this one are great opportunities for young people to meet local ECOs and learn firsthand about their exciting careers.
Auto recycling fire
On July 21, ECO Emma Carpenter responded to a large fire at an automobile recycling facility in West Babylon. Upon arrival, Carpenter found the fire was contained. Nine local fire departments helped put out the blaze. However, the thousands of gallons of water poured over crushed cars at the facility caused some petroleum products to wash off-site and into the street. With help from Rob Poczkalski from the DEC Spills Response Unit and staff from Babylon’s Department of Environmental Control, oil-absorbent booms and pads were put down around storm drains to stop the flow of water. Approximately 100 cars were involved in the fire, and the storm drains and pipes are being remediated to remove any residue from the contaminated water. None of the contaminated water reached local basins or waterways.
Illegal transfer station and petroleum spill (Orange County)
On July 25, ECO Chris Lattimer responded to a solid waste complaint in the town of Goshen. On the scene, he observed a carting company bringing construction and demolition debris mixed with non-exempt material and dumping the debris. Lattimer also observed that the company was operating as a transfer station by bringing back full dumpsters and off-loading and storing them on site. During his inspection, Lattimer found a large metal container that was being used to store waste oil drums. Upon closer inspection, he found that the mixture of 55-gallon and five-gallon drums were leaking into the container and onto the ground. The owner of the business arrived at the site a short time later and Lattimer issued him tickets for improper disposal of waste oil, unlawful disposal of solid waste, operating a transfer station without a permit, and failing to notify/report a petroleum discharge, all returnable to Goshen Town Court.
Boat Patrol on Lake Ontario
On July 23 and 29, ECOs George Scheer, Brian Shea, and Gary Wilson were assigned to a marine patrol on Lake Ontario in Monroe County. This patrol was part of a statewide detail for Division of Law Enforcement officers to enforce Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for vessels to stay 600 feet from shore when operating at speeds greater than five mph due to high water conditions on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Region 8 ECOs utilized one of the Division’s newest vessels – a 27-foot SAFE Boat, “ENCON A14.” While on patrol, the ECOs fielded questions about fishing and navigation laws. Most of the boaters encountered over the two days were in compliance with the navigation and conservation Laws, although four tickets were issued and more than a dozen verbal warnings given for other minor infractions.
Summer deer jacking
On July 27, Tech Sgt. Keith Isles was notified by a Schoharie County sheriff’s deputy of a possible deer jacking the previous night in the town of Carlisle. The deputy responded to a complaint at 11:41 p.m. from a resident stating they had observed a pickup truck spotlighting fields. The person then heard 12 to 15 small-caliber rifle shots. The complainant drove to the scene and the pickup left at a high rate of speed. However, the complainant had the vehicle’s license plate number and a description of the truck. The deputy did not locate the truck or any physical evidence. Sgt. Isles with K-9 Shamey and ECO Vern Bauer with K-9 Woods responded to the scene to attempt to locate evidence. The K-9s located two .22-caliber shell casings and four live rounds in the grass at the side of the road. The K-9s also searched the surrounding fields for deer but found none. Isles and Bauer spoke with the truck owner’s parents at their residence. Fifteen minutes later, the 23-year-old subject agreed to meet the officers. During his interview, the subject stated that he and some friends were hanging out when one decided he wanted to shoot a deer. The owner of the truck drove while the second subject rode in the bed of the truck to shoot. The truck owner stated his friend shot twice at a deer, missing both times before the gun jammed. The alleged shooter was summoned to the scene and during a separate interview gave the same details. Based on the statements of the witness, subjects, and physical evidence, the men were charged with attempting to take white-tailed deer with an artificial light, taking wildlife with the aid of a motor vehicle, possession of a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle, and discharging a firearm over a public highway. They were set to answer the citations in Carlisle Town Court.
Bassmasters Elite tournament
On July 29-30, ECO Matt LaCroix attended the Bassmasters Elite Series fishing tournament on Lake Champlain. On July 26, LaCroix attended the anglers briefing at Plattsburgh’s Crete Civic Center at the request of the BASS tournament manager in order to answer anglers’ questions regarding New York state fishing rules and regulations. On the mornings of July 29 and 30, LaCroix was present at the start of each day’s event at the DEC downtown Plattsburgh boat launch. LaCroix also attended the weigh-ins at the Crete Civic Center. More than 100 professional anglers from around the country attended the tournament.
Lost and found drugs
On Aug. 1, ECO Jonathon Walraven was just starting his shift in Kings County when he noticed several suspicious envelopes on the ground near his patrol vehicle. The envelopes were approximately the size of a sugar packet with the words “King Kong” stamped on them. Under closer examination, Walraven noticed that the packages contained a white powdery substance, possibly narcotics intended for sale. Walraven secured the narcotics as evidence and contacted the local New York Police Department precinct, which dispatched a unit. The NYPD Unit confirmed that the packages were indeed glassine envelopes containing heroin. The envelopes were turned over to the NYPD for further processing.
On Aug. 4, ECO Mark Simmons responded to a complaint of a worker wearing a backpack sprayer and spraying pesticides in a wetland in Brookhaven Township. At the complaint location, Simmons observed a pickup parked in front of the residence with a container of the herbicide Roundup in the bed of the truck. Neither the truck nor the equipment displayed the stickers required for commercial application of pesticides. In addition, the worker was not registered for application of pesticides. The operator admitted to spraying Roundup on vegetation in the rear yard, which is adjacent to a tidal wetland. Simmons issued him four tickets for various pesticide regulation violations.
Injured bear cub
On the evening of Aug. 6, ECO Tom Koepf received a call from State Trooper Rob Cioffi asking for help with an injured bear cub on State Route 42 in the town of Fallsburg. A motorcyclist driving that night had witnessed a mother bear and two cubs dash across the road. One of the cubs had an unfortunate experience and ran head-first into a passing motor vehicle, rendering it unable to walk. The motorcyclist stayed with the cub until Koepf arrived. The cub appeared in good health except for a possible broken front leg and was removed from the roadway and transported to a wildlife rehabilitator in Eldred to be nursed back to health. The cub was expected to make a full recovery.
Rising Water on Canajoharie Creek
On Aug. 2, ECO Jason DeAngelis and Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call reporting several people stranded in a ravine in Canajoharie with water swiftly rising. DeAngelis and two members of the sheriff’s department scrambled along the ravine and pinpointed the location of three victims. The Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department and Schoharie County Rescue Squad conducted high-angle rescue operations, and all three subjects were rescued without injury from the bottom of the 350-foot deep ravine. Earlier in the day the ravine was closed by park officials due to the threat of rising waters. The two female adults who were rescued admitted to walking around the locked gate at the entrance to the park and a second locked gate at the lower end of the park. The third person rescued was a juvenile. Local police issued the two adults appearance tickets for trespassing. Just three weeks prior, 13 people were stranded due to similar conditions and unheeded warnings.
Vessel fire and spill response
On Aug. 4, ECOs responded to a vessel on fire and reports of a diesel fuel spill off Valcour Island in Lake Champlain. The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol was first on scene and extinguished the fire and brought the owners of the vessel to shore. The ECOs responded with a Safeboat and another smaller patrol vessel and found the sunken vessel’s 50-gallon diesel fuel tank leaking fuel into the water. With the assistance of Clinton County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Day and DEC Spill Responder Ben Hankins, the ECOs placed booms in the water to contain the spill, utilizing the DEC Spill Response trailer staged at the Clinton County 911 center in Plattsburgh. The ECOs contained the spill to a small area around the sunken vessel until contractors were able to remove the vessel on Aug. 5.
Arctic fox pup for sale
On Aug. 3, ECO Mark Mazurkiewicz received a call regarding an ad on Buffalo’s Craigslist for an eight-week-old female Arctic fox pup being sold for $600 in Kenmore. Mazurkiewicz contacted a permitted wildlife rehabilitator who operates a sanctuary for foxes, and they met with the Kenmore woman offering the fox pup for sale. It is illegal to possess, barter or offer for sale a wild animal as a pet in New York. The fox pup was seized and taken to the permitted facility, where it will be cared for pending a court disposition. The woman posting the pup for sale had bought it in Michigan and brought it into New York. She was ticketed for offering a wild animal for sale as a pet, returnable to Tonawanda Court, and faces up to a $250 fine. Officer Mazurkiewicz subsequently contacted a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service special agent to follow up on the sale of the pup in Michigan and possible violations of the Lacey Act, which regulates the interstate sale and transportation of wildlife.