New York Cuffs & Collars – March 22nd, 2013
Northern District highlights
All in a day’s work
On Oct. 23, ECO Russell Ritzel was on duty when he received a call from the town of Webb Police Officer John Harrington. Harrington was out on South Shore Road in Old Forge with a male subject who shot a deer in an area that Harrington believed was closed to big-game hunting. Ritzel responded to the location and met with Harrington and the hunter. After a brief interview with the subject, who shot a deer between South Shore Road and the Fulton Chain of Lakes, the subject was charged with hunting in the closed area and unlawfully taking a deer while hunting in the closed area. The subject was arraigned in the Webb town court and entered a plea of guilty to both charges and paid a $25 fine and a $75 surcharge for hunting in a closed area and accepted a civil compromise for unlawfully taking a deer while hunting in the closed area, paying a $400 fine and $2.50 surcharge on that citation.
After Ritzel cleared the Webb town court he received a complaint of a nuisance bear in the town of Boonville on Lovers Lane, just off State Route 28. Ritzel responded to the location of the black bear and met with the homeowner who made the complaint. Ritzel hazed the black bear, which appeared to be a sow that also had a cub with her. After hazing the bear and checking the area, Ritzel learned the complainant had two bird feeders that were attracting the bears to their property. The feeders were taken down and the bears have not returned since being hazed. Just as Ritzel was clearing the nuisance bear complaint, State Trooper Mark Hale contacted him pertaining to a deer jacking in progress; he received a report of shots fired in the town of Ava on Webster Hill Road. The suspect vehicle was identified by the complainant, who was also able to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle. The vehicle had fled the area and a multi-agency search for the vehicle was initiated. Also assisting with the complaint was State Trooper Eric Iacovissi and Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Haynes. With the joint efforts of all three agencies, the suspects were located hiding in a residence on East Ava Road in the town of Ava and taken into custody. Citations included possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a hour, using a spotlight on lands inhabited by deer while in possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle, killing a deer with the aid of a spotlight at night and killing a deer except as permitted by the fish and wildlife law.
Bragging leads to bust
In October, ECO Andy McCormick received an anonymous complaint stating that an individual who resided in the town of Union was bragging about shooting a deer over a pile of bait in back of his house. The anonymous caller left no contact information for McCormick. With no more information, McCormick, accompanied by Tom Gragg of DEC’s Division of Air Quality, responded to the suspect’s residence in the town of Union. When he approached the residence, McCormick noticed what appeared to be a bag of whole kernel corn lying against the suspect’s garage door. McCormick proceeded to interview the suspect, who informed McCormick he had shot a doe deer on the previous day and that it was hanging in his garage. While the suspect showed McCormick the deer hanging in the garage, McCormick confirmed that the bag he had seen was, in fact, a bag of whole kernel corn. There was also a jug of “Buck Jam” inside the bag. McCormick questioned the suspect about the corn and “Buck Jam” and asked if the deer hanging in his garage, which was not tagged, had been shot over bait. At first the suspect denied it and stated he had shot the deer in the town of Conklin. McCormick continued questioning the suspect and was ready to have the suspect take him to Conklin to show him the spot where he was claiming he had shot the deer. However, the suspect finally admitted to shooting the deer in back of his residence over bait. A quick check of the property confirmed the deer had been shot over bait. The deer was seized and donated to the Venison Donation program and the suspect was issued tickets for hunting deer with the aid of bait and taking an illegal deer.
On the afternoon of Oct. 1, opening day of the Southern Zone archery deer season, Cayuga County ECO Mark Colesante received a call from a town of Owasco resident who had caught a trespasser on his property that morning. The trespasser was bowhunting a border hedgerow when he shot onto the complainant’s posted property and killed a small 8-point buck. The complainant, who practices quality deer management, was bowhunting and watched the deer get arrowed. The complainant approached the bowhunter as he was standing over the dead deer. He recognized the bowhunter and confronted him about the trespass. While he was talking to the trespasser, he never saw him fill out a tag for the deer he had killed. He didn’t want the man arrested for trespass or for taking a deer on posted property, but he did want Colesante to find out if he tagged the buck.
Colesante traveled to Lysander to visit the bowhunter. When Colesante pulled into the driveway he was spraying the blood off the garage floor with a garden hose. The ECO asked to see the deer, and the man opened up the refrigerator door. The deer was already quartered and placed in the refrigerator. The antlers were lying on a workbench. When Colesante asked to see the tag, the man stated that it was in his vehicle. He opened up the passenger side door and was leaning over the center console. He was there for approximately 10 seconds before Colesante decided to see what he was doing. When he exited the vehicle he had his tag in one hand and a pen in the other. He was trying to fill out his tag, but his pen wouldn’t work. Colesante took the blank tag and issued the man a ticket for the untagged deer.
(Onondaga & Cayuga counties)
On Oct. 27, Onondaga and Cayuga county ECOs conducted a waterfowl hunter enforcement detail. The ECOs conducted boat patrols and land checks prior to and during the Western Zone duck season opener. They issued seven tickets and nine warnings for unlawfully taking protected birds, taking waterfowl in a closed season, no HIP numbers, unsigned duck stamps, insufficient PFDs and trespass. During the detail, ECOs Mark Colesante and Scott Sincebaugh were checking duck hunters in Cayuga County. As they pulled into a launch along the Seneca River, there were several boats waiting to pull out of the water. The hunting had been slow and most of the hunters were leaving early. As Sincebaugh was checking a boat that had four hunters in it, he found the first hunter in the boat did not have a HIP number and had an unsigned duck stamp. When asked if they had any ducks, they stated that they had shot one merganser. The ECO asked them again what kind of duck it was, and they stated that they thought it was a hooded merganser. When they held it up, the ECO saw that it wasn’t a merganser but a kingfisher. A subject in a boat next to them also noticed this and said “I didn’t know kingfisher season was open.” Three of the subjects admitted to shooting at the protected bird, thinking it was a duck. A total of five tickets were issued to the hunters. Four tickets were for hunting offenses and one for insufficient personal flotation devices, since they also only had two life jackets for the four people in the boat.
A quick limit
In October, ECO Dave Hulett received a tip of baited treestands from a Pennsylvania archer hunting property south of Hornell. The hunter reported seeing bait by treestands on posted property adjoining the land he was hunting. Hulett checked the location and found both salt blocks and rotted tree stumps seeded with corn; none of the nearby stands was occupied. Returning several days later, Hulett found two hunters, one in a stand by one of the corn baits (the corn had all been eaten), the other (the property owner) in a stand by the salt block. The owner admitted placing the bait and salt, but said he only did so to help with taking pictures of the deer on his property. Of course, both were armed with compound bows and arrows with broadheads at the time of this check. Hulett issued the property owner a ticket for placing salt on lands inhabited by deer. The second hunter, a Colorado resident, was ticketed for hunting deer over bait and hunting big game without a license. The Colorado man indicated he had come to fish for salmon (he had a valid nonresident fishing license) and had limited out early in the day, so they returned to Steuben County and decided to try for deer.
On Oct. 27, ECOs Chris Freeman and Nathan Ver Hague were assigned to a waterfowl detail. The detail coverage included the Lake Erie shoreline as well as inland lakes. Throughout the morning and late afternoon/early evening, the ECOs checked approximately 20 hunters for compliance during the opening day detail. The ECOs addressed several violations through written warnings and tickets. The violations included unsigned duck stamps, no HIP numbers and a loaded firearm in a vessel. Other zone ECOs also participated in the detail covering Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
During the month of October, while checking fishermen on Chautauqua Creek, ECO Jerry Kinney observed on three separate occasions fishermen attempting to snag trout. In one case in particular, a fly-fisherman was repeatedly attempting to snag fish. Kinney went down to the creek and began checking fishermen. The one who Kinney had his eye on left his equipment and began walking down the trail. The officer caught up with the man and asked for his license, at which time he stated he did not have one. The fisherman was cited for fishing without a license and attempting to snatch fish, with the citations to be answered in Westfield village court.
On Oct. 9, ECO Carl Gill responded to a residence in the town of Eden to assist the SPCA. The SPCA was investigating a livestock complaint and observed a raccoon in a cage. The homeowner stated it was his pet raccoon. The conditions in which the raccoon was living were deplorable, with several inches of its own waste in the bottom of the cage. The owner was issued a ticket for possessing wildlife without a permit, which was returnable to Eden town court. The raccoon was destroyed and the carcass was delivered to the Erie County Department of Health for rabies testing.
On Oct. 20, ECOs James Rogers and Jason Powers conducted a night patrol beginning at 2 a.m. at the Burt Dam area on Eighteen Mile Creek in Newfane. During the patrol, the ECOs witnessed two subjects come down the east bank of the creek near the dam, but they did not attempt to fish before legal time. As other fishermen arrived, a heated discussion ensued as to how the first two fishermen got there before the town of Newfane opened the gate and began collecting the entrance fee for the area. Rogers continued to observe the two subjects as legal fishing commenced. The officer witnessed the men illegally snatching fish and keeping foul-hooked brown trout and king salmon. They were subsequently apprehended by Rogers and issued tickets for snatching fish and keeping foul-hooked fish. They were also brought back to the gate, where they then paid their access fees.
On Oct. 26, ECO Robert Peinkofer was assigned to salmon enforcement on Eighteen Mile Creek in Newfane. Peinkofer quickly observed several violations by three men fishing together. Keeping track of the violators and continuing to watch, he then observed one fisherman take his second steelhead and put it on a stringer. This was the second steelhead observed by the ECO, with one already on the stringer that was not observed being caught. Once the third steelhead was put on the stringer, the individual started to leave, prompting Peinkofer to approach him in the parking lot. The fisherman quickly tried to explain that one fish belonged to each of his friends still fishing on the creek. Advised of what the officer observed, the defendant was issued a summons for taking over the creel limit of trout. Peinkofer then made his way back down to the creek, and the two other fisherman were ticketed for failing to release foul-hooked fish. While finishing up the third summons, another fisherman approached the officer stating there was a man with a net in the creek. It was still legal fishing time but darkness was fast approaching. Peinkofer made his way back down to the creek, passing many fishermen on their way out. The ECO finally located two fishermen in the creek scooping up a salmon with a net. Using the darkness and the brush to his advantage, Peinkofer made his way to within a few feet of the men and watched them net two more fish. As they were leaving the area, Peinkofer apprehended them. The defendant and his 13-year-old son were quick to tell the officer that all three fish were caught in the mouth. The dad was then issued tickets for three counts of fishing by means other than angling and for failure to carry a fishing license while fishing.
On Oct. 29, ECO Jason Powers received a phone call from a fisherman concerned about another fisherman who was using a treble hook to snag fish on Eighteen Mile Creek in Newfane. Powers was already at the Burt Dam working a plainclothes fishing detail at the time of the phone call. He immediately made his way toward the subject in question and began fishing next to him. At first the fisherman was using a legal bait, but after approximately 10 minutes he walked to his tackle box and put on an illegal treble hook. Powers watched him for several minutes while the fisherman attempted to snag fish with the illegal hook. The ECO then identified himself and the fisherman was issued a ticket for using a treble hook in prohibited waters and for illegal snatching. The fisherman was scheduled to answer the citations in Newfane town court.
Emerald ash borer detail
ECO Darci Dougherty was assigned to an emerald ash borer detail. The officers had set up a road check, looking for vehicle and traffic infractions as well as vehicles transporting firewood. As a small pickup approached Dougherty, she noticed it had a yellow inspection sticker in its window, indicating that it had expired two years ago. The officer pulled the driver over and interviewed him and checked his vehicle paperwork. Upon contacting central dispatch to check the driver’s license, she learned his driving privileges were suspended in Florida indefinitely. Dougherty detained the driver until his company was able to send a legally licensed driver to drive the truck back to the shop, and the driver was released with two appearance tickets returnable to Chautauqua town court.
Trespass at Adirondack Mountain Reserve
On the opening day of Northern Zone firearms deer and bear season, ECO Phelps received a complaint from the director of security at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, a private preserve that serves as the eastern trailhead to the Great Range, among other High Peaks. The preserve restricts activity to hiking only along its trails to access the High Peaks. The director of security encountered a New York City man carrying a rifle who wanted to hunt deer at the Ausable Lakes, which are privately owned. The man was advised by security that hunting is not permitted at that location and that all firearms must be broken down to be taken onto the property. The would-be hunter turned around and walked back to his vehicle, but between the guard post and his vehicle he went into the woods to continue his intended journey. The man was encountered by security staff coming off of a popular hiking trail to Noonmark Mountain later in the day with rifle in tow. Phelps responded and issued the man two tickets, one for trespassing while engaged in hunting and one for possessing a firearm on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The director of security told the officer that in more than 30 years at the preserve, he had never had a hunter trespass on the property after being advised of the rules and regulations.
Hurricane Sandy response
Region 5 ECOs responded to Long Island to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy. They, along with ECOS from other regions throughout the state, conducted patrols on foot, ATVs and boats. They assisted with distribution of food and supplies at FEMA centers, conducted traffic light details and provided security at gas stations and against looting in hard-to-reach locations.
ECOs Sherry, Worden, Lakeman, Schoonover, Murphy, Malone, Ryan, and Lucas were deployed to Long Island to assist with Hurricane Sandy relief. They were among many other officers that responded to Long Island from all over the state.
The officers were tasked with a variety of support jobs. The officers provided support to Suffolk Police Department for traffic control, looting patrols, security patrols and assisted with a variety of arrests. Officers worked the emergency operations center, answering the numerous calls for assistance. Officers provided support to many areas of Long Island with boat and ATV patrols. ATV patrols were used in the more severely damaged areas of Long Island, including Fire Island. The ATV and boat patrols assisted local police departments with security, looting enforcement and the health and safety of the Long Island people.
Youth waterfowl hunt
On Oct. 12, ECOs Scott Sincebaugh and Scott Angotti provided instruction to six youth hunters as part of the second annual Youth Waterfowl Hunt at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The ECOs spoke to the hunters and their mentors about the hunt the next day and stressed the safety aspects of the hunt. The following morning, Sincebaugh, Angotti and ECO Mark Colesante met everyone at the refuge check station and gave them their hunting assignments for the day. During the hunt, the six youth hunters shot a total of 18 ducks and two geese, with each hunter harvesting at least two ducks. After the morning hunt was over, everyone met back at the check station for pictures and storytelling. The program is made possible through donations from the New York Conservation Officer’s Association, The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the Seneca County Sportsmen’s Federation. Through the generosity of the sponsors each youth hunter received a box of shells, six mallard decoys and food during the event.
Nabbed at the border
ECO Steve Farrand was investigating a turkey hunting complaint when he overheard the state police dispatch a car to Cook Road in Troupsburg. Dispatch reported a man was attempting to break into a house and the subject was using an axe trying to break through locked doors. The complainant reported he intended to shoot the man if he broke through the door. Farrand was closer to the residence than the trooper and advised dispatch he would respond. Dispatch updated the responding officers, noting the suspect had been in a physical altercation with his father at their home in Tioga, Pa., earlier that day and had fled the scene and gotten into New York ahead of two Pa. state troopers who were responding to the family dispute. The next update indicated the subject had left the Cook Road residence and was suspected of heading back to Pennsylvania. Knowing the most direct route from Cook Road to Pennsylvania, Farrand staged near the border, attempting to head-off the suspect. He soon saw the suspect vehicle approaching and was able to pull the vehicle over and take the man into custody. Farrand turned suspect over to Trooper Joe Livingston. State police arrested the man on several charges, including three counts of criminal mischief 4th degree and criminal trespass 2nd degree. After arraignment, the suspect was remanded to the Steuben County Jail on $2,000 bail.