NY: Cuffs and Collars Issue: 10

Western District Highlights

Local waterfowl carver

becomes waterfowl poacher

(St. Lawrence County)

ECO Bret Canary had received numerous complaints over a three-year
period regarding illegal duck hunting during the closed season
occurring along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River west of
Lisbon town beach. The complainants never had enough information,
or even a pinpointed spot where it was occurring; just a general
direction. This lack of specific information, and the Canadian duck
season extending much farther beyond that of New York’s, made it
difficult to locate the violator(s), if there were any at all. The
Canadian border is less than a mile across the river in this area,
and sounds from gunshots carry well across water, making the
discharges seem closer than they are.

Finally, Canary got a break when a border patrol officer had
received word of boat traffic in an area not typical for a January
day. The agent patrolled the shoreline and located a vessel that
had recently been taken out of the water onto a boat hoist. It was
still wet and unfrozen. He observed a few feathers and blood in the
bottom of the boat. Assuming they had been hunting Canada’s duck
season, the agent didn’t call immediately, and passed on the
information later that afternoon. Canary was unable to follow up
until three days later. The blood and feather evidence was gone
from the boat, but two corn kernels were located on the vessel
floor, making the officer suspicious that the ducks were being

Canary ran the registration of the boat and obtained the owner’s
information. It came back to an individual the ECO new. The man was
a locally famous duck/waterfowl carver, and very good at his trade.
The ECO immediately assumed, knowing who the man was, that
everything would most likely be legit. But sadly, it was quite the

Canary decided to patrol further by foot along the banks of the
river, following old footprints in the snow. Weaving in and out of
camps, the ECO came around a bend and discovered hundreds of ducks
of all varieties in a small bay. The ducks spooked and all flew
away, revealing a golden sheen on the bottom of the river  – it was
corn. Seeing enough, the ECO went to find the boat’s owner. After a
brief conversation and the evidence presented, the man confessed
that he was shooting ducks out of season, baiting them with corn,
using an unplugged shotgun capable of more than three shells, using
lead shot reloads, and failing to carry his license, duck stamp,
and HIP number because he had lost his hunting license. The ECO
issued the proper tickets.

Too much to lose

(Onondaga County)

On Dec. 20, 2010 at about 6:30 p.m., ECO Chrisman Starczek
responded to a report of two men field dressing a deer on the side
of Hogsback Road in the Town of Onondaga. The complainant gave a
plate number and Starczek went to the registered owner’s address.
When Starczek arrived at the address, there were two individuals
skinning a deer in the garage. They stated that one man had shot
the deer on Kinyon Road earlier that day with his muzzleloader. The
deer was tagged with the individuals’ bow/muzz either sex tag and
he possessed a muzzleloader license. The other individual stated he
was just picking up the other man from hunting because he did not
have a driver’s license and was also helping him dress the deer
out. They stated that they were gutting the deer on Hogsback Road
so they could coyote hunt over the remains.

Starczek then checked the Kinyon Road area and found the drag marks
in the fresh snow and where the deer had been shot. The marks
indicated that the deer was shot from the road and within 500 feet
of the landowner’s house. Starczek interviewed the landowner and he
had not given anyone permission to hunt on his property or to shoot
within 500 feet of his house.

Two days later, Starczek reinterviewed the alleged shooter. During
this interview, the individual admitted that he had lied about how
the deer was taken. He then gave Starczek a written statement
admitting that he had not taken the deer. He stated that he and the
other individual were road hunting and came across some deer in a
field. The other man pulled the car over and shot the deer from the
car. The next day, Starczek stopped at that individual’s house and
asked if he would go and show him the location of where the deer
had been shot. The suspect pointed out a logging road that was west
of the real locations. He stated this is where his friend was
hunting and dragged the deer to the edge of the road. After
Starczek showed the suspect the real location, he admitted that the
deer had been shot from the road. He stated that they were road
hunting and his friend had shot the deer from the car. He said that
he pointed out a fake location because he knew they were within 500
feet of the landowner’s house when the other individual shot.

Later that same day the two men were re-interviewed. After
interviewing both men at length, they finally admitted the truth:
The two were road hunting and came across two deer in the field
just before dark. One man stopped the car and leaned back in his
seat. The other shot the deer from the car, out the driver’s side
window, from the road and within 500 feet of the landowner’s

One suspect had been lying because he did not want to go back to
jail. He is a convicted felon and is not allowed to possess any
firearm or a muzzleloader (per his probation terms). The shooter
was lying because he is trying to work in the environmental field
and get a guiding business started, but if he gets any
environmental conservation charges he will not be able to do
either. Multiple misdemeanor charges for both men were pending in
Town of Otisco Court.

Sow and two cubs shot in den

(Schuyler County)

Region 8 ECO Toni Dragotta received information that a man and his
son had shot a sow and two cubs in a den around Christmas time and
that the hides were at a friend’s house to be tanned. As is common
in most illegal bear cases, it was suggested the bears were
“attacking” the pair.

Dragotta and Lt. Peter Barton examined the bear hides and found two
different calibers had been used. Based on the location of the
bullet holes in the hides, it was obvious the bears could not have
been attacking and were likely still in the den when shot. When the
father was confronted with the evidence, he admitted that he and
his son had shot all three bears while they were in the den.

The father admitted that he and his son had been walking with their
dog on a trail on their property when the dog alerted them to the
location of the bears in a blowdown den just off a walking trail.
The next day they went back to the location, with the father
carrying a brand-new Ruger .44 6-shot revolver he had received as a
gift from his son. The son was carrying a Ruger mini-.30. The
father described his actions as follows: “We were about 30 feet
away from the den when I saw the bear stick its head up. I stopped
and pulled out my .44 mag revolver and shot at the head of the bear
in the den. The bear’s head went down, then came back up and looked
in our direction. I shot at the head again. The bear went down. I
moved to the right of the den. At that time I saw another bear. It
was starting to lift its head and I shot it in the head. Then I saw
a third bear start to move so I shot that bear in the shoulder.”
The father also admitted his son had shot at the bears several
times as well. His reason for killing the family of denned bears?
He did not want the bears on his property.

They were charged with taking three bears during the closed season;
taking a bear that the taker should have known to be less than one
year old; taking/shooting a bear from a group of bears;
taking/shooting three bears in a den; taking more than one bear a
year, and failing to report taking three bears. The father paid
$3,000 in fines and the son paid $1,500 in fines Their hunting
licenses will also be subject to revocation for a period to be
determined by the department.

The subject found to be in possession of the three bear hides for
tanning was charged with three counts of possessing wildlife
contrary to law (possessing three untagged bear hides that he knew
were taken illegally). He agreed to settle the charges
administratively and was fined $250.

Southern District


Largemouth bass in Chinatown


Marine Unit Officers George Scheer, Kevin Thomas and Jamie Powers
were conducting restaurant checks in Manhattan during the Chinese
New Year when they came across a restaurant with live largemouth
bass in their fish tanks. Being lifelong freshwater fisherman
themselves, these fish were easily recognized, although out of
place in Manhattan. An employee of the restaurant, knowing they are
illegal, tried scooping them out into a plastic bag before the
officers noticed, but this action did not fly under the radar of
Powers as he grabbed the bag. After questioning the worker, the
officers found that a market on Mott Street had sold them the fish.
Three fish markets lined Mott Street and were packed with people.
The officers split up and inspected each market. Powers quickly
discovered a few fish in the second market that were being offered
for sale and confiscated them. Thomas took a walk through the store
he was in and noted nothing out of the ordinary, until he saw an
employee come out of the back alley way. When he looked into the
alley, he noticed an open door leading down into a basement where
he saw fish totes and large cement tubs with water in them. The
tubs were filled with over 290 pounds of live largemouth bass. The
manager of the market admitted the bass were his and said he sells
them for the New Year. The case was brought to the attention of the
Marine Unit Lieutenant, Lt. Francisco Lopez, and this case is
currently under review for an administrative settlement and hefty
penalties. On a brighter note, the Bowery Mission received over 300
pounds of fresh bass to feed the homeless and needy that night.

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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