New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – May 18, 2018

(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.)

Lead acid batteries on the ground
(Orange County)

On Jan. 5, ECOs Melissa Burgess and Corey Hornicek traveled to the town of Monroe in Orange County to perform checks of auto repair shops. ECOs were on the lookout for violations such as uncovered lead acid batteries or batteries left on the ground, unregistered or unlabeled waste oil tanks, and improper posting of signs concerning the acceptance of waste oil or lead acid batteries for recycling. During one check, the ECOs observed a number of batteries left exposed to the weather, as well as several additional batteries in standing water in the garage. The officers explained the violation to the owner of the business and the necessary corrective measures. A ticket was issued for improper storage of lead acid batteries, returnable to Monroe Village Court.

Shellfish seized
(Kings County)

On Jan. 7, ECOs Zachary Kochanowski and Connor Dodge conducted several shellfish market checks in Kings County. The ECOs observed multiple violations during these inspections and issued tickets, including two for possession of untagged shellfish, one for failing to possess a valid shellfish water storage permit, and one for removing or defacing a tag or label, all returnable to Kings County Court. In total, 130 clams and 93 mussels were seized, photographed as evidence, and disposed of as they could not be verified as suitable for human consumption.

Investigating cause of death of a moose (Franklin County)

On Jan. 9, ECO Jim Cranker, assisted DEC wildlife technicians Sharon Tabor, Ben Simpson and Chris Long, investigating a dead moose in the Chateaugay Woodlands Conservation Easement in the town of Franklin. The female moose was radio collared during the winter of 2016, and died on Jan. 5, according to the radio collar, which had transmitted a “mortality event.” The crew snowshoed in to the location transmitted by the collar and found the moose in a bedded position under the snow on an old logging road. The temperatures over the previous weekend had been extremely cold, nearly 30 degrees below zero at times. No scavengers had disturbed the carcass. Her coat was thick and healthy looking, and there were no signs of external parasites on the moose. However, her bone marrow indicated possible malnourishment. The recovered bone marrow, along with the moose’s head, lungs, kidneys, heart, and liver were packed out of the woods and sent to DEC’s Wildlife Pathology Unit in Delmar for analysis. Results will be determined in the coming months.

Youth ice fishing clinic
(Oneida County)

On Feb. 6, ECOs Shana Hutton and Chrisman Starczek helped 100 fourth grade students from city of Rome elementary schools on Lake Delta learn how to ice fish. The event was organized by Melissa O’Rourke, a physical education teacher at Rome Free Academy. O’Rourke is the coordinator for Camp CEAL, a high school elective for students to learn leadership skills through outdoor activities. The ECOs led a presentation on fish identification, fishing regulations, and ice safety. After that, the officers, with the help of Rome Free Academy teachers and Camp CEAL students, assisted the fourth graders in setting up tip-ups and jigging rods. For most of the students it was their first time spending the day on a frozen lake. The students got to see about 20 tip-up flags fly into the air as yellow perch and northern pike were landed and later returned to the lake. 

The wolf of East 15th Street
(Kings County)

On Feb. 7, ECOs Ryan Grogan and Joshua Harvey concluded and investigation and seized a gray wolf pelt rug from an individual who had listed the item for sale on Craigslist. Grogan had been in contact with the seller for more than a month in an attempt to arrange a meeting, but the seller canceled multiple times. After one last effort, the seller agreed to meet in Kings County, but only if they could meet within the hour. With no time to change into plain clothes, Grogan covered his uniform with a civilian jacket and was dropped off a few blocks away from the meeting location by Harvey. Grogan met the seller, who presented the wolf pelt and offered it for the sale price of $2,000. Harvey then pulled up in a patrol car, the officers identified themselves, and the pelt was seized from the surprised seller. A Notice of Violation was issued to the seller for the felony sale of endangered species or parts thereof, and the case was to be handled by DEC legal staff.

Pheasant seizure
(Suffolk County)

On Feb. 9, ECOs Nicholas Nicholas and Emma Carpenter responded to a complaint from the Suffolk County SPCA regarding a pheasant illegally possessed at a residence in the town of Islip, where SPCA had executed a search warrant with the Suffolk County Police Department earlier that day. When the ECOs arrived they found a caged pheasant in the backyard surrounded by dozens of caged roosters, hens and various domesticated animals. The ECOs took several photos and the pheasant was positively identified by DEC wildlife staff as a melanistic mutant ringneck pheasant. The property owner was issued one ticket for unlawful possession of game/wildlife by the officers. The pheasant was seized and turned over to the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve. In addition to the environmental conservation law charge, the Suffolk County SPCA charged the owner with four violations of New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, including three misdemeanors related to rooster fighting.

Crabs and clams on planes
(Queens County)

On the evening of Feb. 10, ECO Dan Plows was contacted by U.S. Customs agricultural specialists concerning a shipment of 30 Chinese mitten crabs confiscated earlier that day from a passenger arriving by air from China at JFK Airport. Chinese mitten crabs are a highly invasive species that will destroy native crab ecosystems and are currently establishing a foothold in the Hudson River. The crabs are illegal to possess, buy or sell in New York state. Plows met with the agricultural specialists at JFK to take possession of the mitten crabs and obtain the individual’s information. Later that night, Plows received another call from the agricultural specialists regarding 6.6 pounds of blood clams that a different individual was attempting to import from China, also by plane. Blood clams are illegal to possess, buy, or sell due to being harvested from uncertified waters and the risk of the clams carrying diseases and bacteria, including hepatitis A. On Feb. 11, Plows and ECO Connor Dodge contacted the owner of the mitten crabs and interviewed him. The subject was issued a summons for a violation of 6NYCRR 44.6, possession of mitten crabs, returnable to Queens County Court. Later that day, Plows and Dodge contacted the other individual about the blood clams and arranged an interview. She admitted to bringing the blood clams into the country and was issued a summons for a violation of ECL 13-0309.1(b), possession of shellfish from uncertified waters, returnable to Queens County Court. All of the illegally imported crabs and clams were destroyed.

Three men in a ‘pickerel’
(Schenectady County)

On Feb. 11, ECO Jason DeAngelis observed three men with a large number of undersized pickerel displayed on the ice on Mariaville Lake in the town of Duanesburg. As DeAngelis headed out onto the lake to check the men’s fishing licenses, the men began pushing the fish back down into the ice fishing holes. DeAngelis quickly found that the men were in possession of 69 fish over the daily catch limit, and 31 fish shorter than the legal length. DeAngelis charged the three men with multiple violations and released the fish that were still alive back into the lake.

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