Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

ECOs protect more than just fish and wildlife

“Hand over the bottle deposit and no one gets hurt!”

Hardly a command you’d expect from an environmental conservation
officer – those men and women charged with protecting our wildlife
and habitat. Those who patrol our woods and waters, making sure
that all is safe for man and beast.

But welcome to New York. Where they also check the tailpipes of
trucks in midtown Manhattan, fine steamship companies for not
confining paint chips as they fall off the side of the ship and
yes, make sure your neighborhood stores are collecting and turning
over five-cent bottle deposits. Not that those things shouldn’t be
done; every nickle certainly counts in this day and age. But we
don’t have enough ECOs to do all of this – even if all they were
doing was patrolling our woods and waters.

Absolutely, the state should be enforcing its environmental
conservation laws, but the current situation is doing no one
justice. There’s a serious shortage of ECOs around the state;
officials have said they are short about 40 men and women and that
number will probably soon grow through retirements should the group
ever finalize a contract with the state. That’s another blog topic,
but long story short, they’ve been without a contract since 2005.
Think about that for a while.

I grew up in a state that took things to the other extreme.
Pennsylvania not only has a specific agency to handle the state’s
outdoors, but further breaks things down into a game commission and
a fish and boat commission, each with it’s own officers and
bureaucracy. That’s probably a little much, but I’d almost rather
have things go to that extreme than to have to share the guy who
should be nabbing poachers while he’s standing in front of
Rockefeller Center with a noise meter. (What does he think he’s
going to find?)

As is the case with much of our bureaucracy – whether it be health
care, education or state government – I see it as what I call a
nuclear issue. It’s not going to get any better until you blow it
up and start all over again. You’re not going to reform something
like Albany unless to you take the “This Old House” approach and
strip it down to the bare beams and build it back.

A new training academy would be a start – New York hasn’t trained
any ECOs since 2008 and then only graduated 23. There are no plans
for an academy this year and DEC says it’s “unable to say if there
will be one or not anytime soon,” although they are evaluating the
need.

That’s nice.

I do realize it’s not DEC’s fault, per se. It has no money because
the state has no money and everyone is being asked to cut even
more. And there’s a bit of the Not-In-My-Backyard syndrome for
sure. I say cut the noise meter test and give me more deer season
patrols. But what kind of message does this send the sportsmen of
the state? Just keep redeeming those bottles, I guess.

 

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