New York Cuffs & Collars – July 12th, 2013

ECO Ricky Wood honored
(Seneca County)

On Jan. 12, ECO Ricky Wood and Lt. Deming Lindsley traveled to Waterloo to attend the New York Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet. Wood was ECO of the Year award recipient. Wood was presented with a plaque and large turkey print by the federation's president, Bill Wilbur.

Leadfoot in the park
(Rockland County)

On Jan. 30, ECO Dawn Galvin was patrolling to the village of Sloatsburg court to cover a deerjacking case when she came up behind a vehicle on Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park. The vehicle sped up to about 90 mph in a 40 mph zone. Galvin caught up to the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer observed a strong odor of marijuana. The driver stated, “That was pretty stupid… huh?” to which Galvin agreed. When asked about the smell of marijuana, the subject stated he had smoked about eight hours ago. Galvin asked again when he smoked, and he admitted to smoking within the last 20 minutes. Galvin contacted the state park police for assistance. A search of the vehicle found marijuana, prescription drugs and illegal fireworks. Galvin issued a ticket for speeding and turned the arrest for criminal possession of a controlled substance over to the park police. The case was pending in the town of Haverstraw Court.

Off-road activity
(Suffolk County)

On Feb. 3, ECO Matthew Krug was on an off-road patrol of a large section of well-posted private property where there had been previous complaints about illegal off-road activity. As Krug entered the property, he observed a black Jeep parked at an old fire tower. The driver of the Jeep was issued two tickets for trespass and operating a 4WD vehicle off road on private property. The escorted the Jeep off the property. Upon returning to the property, he observed two more Jeeps and a white pickup truck off-roading on the property. Krug contacted ECO Kaitlin Grady, who blocked the entrance to the property from the west end. As Krug approached the vehicles, they headed west. Grady blocked the trail they were on and stopped all three vehicles. Krug, ECO Chris Lagree and Lt. Dallas Bengel responded to that location. A total of seven tickets were issued to the three vehicle operators, including trespassing, operating a 4WD vehicle off-road on private property, and violations of a restricted-use license. While the ECOs were writing out the tickets, two ATVs operated by men wearing camouflage drove up to the ECOs and abruptly pulled a U-turn to get away. After the ECOs issued the tickets, Krug headed back into the property to look for the ATVs. The other ECOs blocked the other entrances off to the property. As Krug drove through the property, he overheard several male subjects talking. Krug parked his patrol vehicle and walked to where he heard the voices. Three ATVs were parked with three male subjects. The first subject to see Krug hopped on his ATV and took off without his helmet. Krug was able to approach the other two male subjects and stop them before they could run off. Lagree and Thompson attempted to stop the fleeing ATV, without any luck. The other two ATV riders were each issued tickets for trespassing and operating an ATV on private property. Maximum fines for the off-road truck and ATV violations are $1,000 if found guilty at court.

Officer outreach
(Richmond County)

On Jan. 26 ECO Matthew Nichols attended a Youth Conservation Course on behalf of the New York Conservation Officers Association (NYCOA) and the DEC. The course was held at the Zimmer Fish and Game Club. There were 15-20 members at the training ranging in age from 7 to 70. Nichols spoke on a multitude of topics, ranging from ENCON job duties, fish and wildlife laws, to wetlands ecosystems and gun safety. The members and particularly the youth children in attendance truly enjoyed the training.

Blood clams and mitten crabs
(Queens County)

On Jan. 22, ECOs Shea Mathis and Matthew Baker were inspecting fish markets in Brooklyn’s Chinatown when they received a call from USFWS Inspector Finn, who informed Mathis that he had found an individual flying in from China at JFK Airport to be in possession of 29 mitten crabs in his luggage. Chinese mitten crabs are illegal to possess in New York dead or alive, because of the possibility of them carrying viable eggs. Finn also asked if the DEC regulates shellfish coming in from China, since the subject was also in possession of approximately 400 raw blood clams. China currently does not follow a shellfish sanitation program approved by the US FDA. Therefore, possession of raw shellfish from China is a violation of environmental conservation law and considered a public health hazard. The ECOs patrolled to JFK Airport and issued the individual bringing in the illegal shellfish and crustacea criminal summonses for possession of shellfish from uncertified water and possession of Chinese mitten crabs, returnable to Queens County Court. The evidence was seized and destroyed.

Fish market enforcement
(New York County)

On Jan. 14, ECOs Brent Wilson and Timothy Machnica conducted fish market checks in Chinatown in Manhattan. They inspected multiple markets and restaurants, issuing four summonses for possession of shellfish from non-approved FDA waters. The markets were found to be selling raw calms from China that could potentially pose a health risk to those consuming them.

His fate wasn’t sealed
(Suffolk County)

On Feb. 20, ECO Timothy Fay received a call from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation about a seal that was reported to them by workers dredging the Fire Island inlet. The workers believed the seal was in distress, lying on Overlook Beach in the town of Babylon about 100 yards up from the surf. When Fay arrived, he took pictures of the Atlantic grey seal and emailed them to a Riverhead Foundation biologist. After speaking to the Foundation, two Riverhead Foundation workers arrived and checked on the seal, since there was concern over a possible swollen flipper. After taking some video and seeing the seal move a little, the biologist came to the conclusion that the seal was fine, just taking a break and enjoying the beach. The dredge workers did the right thing by calling the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation; letting the professionals make the right call.

Sanding the boat warrants a closer look
(Kings County)

On Jan. 8, ECOs Neil Stevens and Alan Brassard were patrolling the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn. While patrolling down Emmons Avenue near Jamaica Bay, Stevens noticed an individual waving his arms and yelling loud enough to be heard inside the officer’s patrol car. Believing that the body language of the man making all the gestures and sounds was of a person trying to hide something, Stevens quickly requested Brassard to stop the car for a closer inspection. Immediately upon exiting the patrol car, the officers looked out into the water and observed two men sanding the hull of a moored fishing vessel. As the men were sanding the hull of the boat, paint chips, wood shavings and sawdust entered the water. After interviewing the three subjects on dock, the officers returned to the patrol car to issue summonses as well as check the subjects for warrants. Upon completion of the warrant check, one of the men who had been actively sanding the boat was found to have an active warrant. The subject was taken into custody and transported to Brooklyn central booking for processing. The other subjects involved in sanding of the hull where issued summonses for pollution of the waters of the marine district.

Deerjacking ring
(Otsego County)

In late January, ECO Mark Vencak received a call from an anonymous complainant who reported illegal deer hunting activity in the Middlefield area of Otsego County. The complainant gave Vencak the names of the individuals involved and directed him to some social media sites where he might find some evidence of the activity. On March 19, Vencak and investigator Jesse Paluch interviewed the first of several suspects. One interview led to another, and the following day Vencak and ECO George Wilber took several more statements and continued gathering guns, deer racks, and deer mounts as evidence. At the completion of the investigation it was determined that eight illegal deer (six bucks and two does) had been shot by four defendants. The charges included taking deer at night with artificial lights, shooting from a highway, taking of doe deer without DMP tags, taking deer with a rifle during archery season, trespassing and hunting during closed hours.

Untagged traps
(Franklin County)

On Feb. 28, ECO Jeff Hovey was on snowmobile patrol in the town of Franklin and observed several locations with snowmobile tracks leading off the main trail onto easement lands. The easement lands are owned by Chateaugay Woodlands LLC.  Hovey followed one set of tracks to a beaver pond, where he located and seized four untagged leghold traps and three body grip traps set on land. The next day, Hovey contacted the forester employed by the property owner and advised him what he had discovered. The forester advised Hovey that one of the hunting lease camps in the area had requested to trap beaver on the property manager’s DEC nuisance beaver permit. Hovey and ECO Dan Malone patrolled the area by snowmobile again on March 1. Hovey located two more untagged body grip traps, one of which had taken a large beaver. Hovey seized all the equipment and carcass as evidence.
On March 7, Hovey and Malone patrolled to the residence of the camp leasee who had requested to work as an agent under the DEC nuisance beaver permit. Hovey interviewed this subject, who produced a copy of the signed permit. The man confessed that all the untagged traps belonged to him. Hovey also advised the trapper that the seven inch leghold trap was too large to be set on land. Hovey issued the subject a ticket for nine counts of operating untagged traps. The defendant appeared in the town of Franklin Court on March 21 and paid a total of $100 in fines and surcharges for this offense.

Illegal turtles offered for sale
(Clinton County)

ECO Dan Malone received a complaint regarding the sale of undersized and possibly native species of turtles at a local pet shop in the city of Plattsburgh. As a result of the investigation, several 1.5-inch map turtles and yellow bellied turtles were seized. The seized reptiles were taken to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake and examined by a herpetologist. Since there is a population of yellow bellied turtles in New York state, these turtles cannot be sold or possessed. The map turtles were determined to be Mississippi map turtles and, although they are not native to New York, could not be sold because the carapace was less than four inches in length. The store was in violation of environmental conservation law for possessing and attempting to sell a protected species. The store also violated state public health laws for failing to post a sign relating to the possible transmission of diseases such as salmonella from turtle species and for offering turtles less than four inches for sale. An citation was issued for the illegal sale of a protected species. An Order of Consent was signed and the civil penalty was set at $500.

Sentenced for illegal hunting activity
(Washington County)

A 19-year-old Hartford man was sentenced to 10 months in the Washington County Jail for numerous hunting violations and violating probation. ECO Jeffrey Dempster arrested the man for hunting big game without a hunting license and possessing a firearm in violation of his probation. Several weeks later, on the same day as his court appearance for Dempster’s charges, ECO Terry Chase arrested the same individual for illegally taking two doe deer, hunting big game without a valid hunting license and again violating his probation by possessing a firearm. Hartford Town Justice Schofield sentenced the man to a six-month term for violating his probation and four months in satisfaction of all environmental conservation offenses, with the jail sentences to be served consecutively.

Trespassing on a beaver pond
(Warren County)

After receiving a complaint of a trapper trespassing on a beaver pond in the town of Chester, ECO George LaPoint responded to try to find where a beaver trapper had gained legal access to the beaver pond by one of the several landowners who own part of the pond. As LaPoint looked for traps being set, he located two traps within 15 feet of the beaver lodge. With ice spud in hand, he chopped through eight inches of ice to locate two set and baited 330 traps. The traps were removed from the water and, after further checking the area, a mink was located in a trap. Based on its fur being loaded with sediment, it had been there for a few days. All of the traps belonged to a Chestertown man. After watching the trap with the dead mink in it for two more days, it was pulled and taken into evidence. The trapper was subsequently issued tickets for trapping within 15 feet of a beaver lodge (two counts), failure to check traps as prescribed by law (four counts), and failure to remove trapped wildlife as prescribed by law. He was scheduled to appear in Chestertown town court.

Not quick enough
(Jefferson County)

On March 2, ECOs Murphy and Malone were on patrol checking ice fishermen in the northern parts of Jefferson County. The two ECOs decided Mud Lake would be a good check due to the nice weather and clear conditions. As the ECOs pulled into the area where ice fishermen park their vehicles, they noticed a large group of fishermen straight out from their location. The two ECOs decided to watch the fishermen for a few minutes prior to checking them because the fishermen hadn’t noticed that they were being watched. While the officers watched the anglers, a largemouth bass was caught on one of their tip-ups. Instead of immediately releasing the fish, a younger angler took possession of the fish and began to walk it over to the ice shanty. While the youth was walking the fish over to the ice shanty, another angler noticed the ECOs and he quickly communicated with the youth to put the bass back down the hole. The kid looked up at the two ECOs and released the fish. The two ECOs knew that now was the time to check the group. The two ECOs quickly descended on the group of fishermen so any illegally kept fish weren’t also shoved down an ice hole. After a quick interview and search of the immediate vicinity of the ice fishermen, three more bass caught earlier in the day were found in a duffle bag. The fishermen were not quick enough to get rid of the illegally caught fish. A ticket was issued to the angler who took responsibility for the illegally kept bass out of season. The ticket is returnable to Theresa town court.
Manure dike overflowing into creek (Wyoming County)
On Feb. 28, ECO James Hunt responded to a complaint of the Edelweiss Farm’s manure dike overflowing into a creek in the town of Arcade. This was the second time this farm had a mechanical failure within two months. The first failure was handled by ECO Roger Ward. This was the third time since 2009 that a manure spill from the dike ended up contaminating the creek. The two spills were combined and the farm settled a consent order for $6,250.  

Unlawful deer
(Chenango County)

On March 5, ECO Brett Armstrong received a complaint. The complainant witnessed, with the aid of binoculars, two subjects in a farm field shoot a deer near his residence. The man gave a complete description of the vehicle and subjects involved, adding that the vehicle, known to him, belonged to a neighbor in the area. While enroute to the complaint, Armstrong observed the vehicle in question at a nearby farm and stopped to conduct an interview. The young man initially denied any involvement in the taking of a deer; however, he did admit that he and a friend had been hunting coyotes. When confronted with the eyewitness account, the subject quickly confessed to his participation, but denied being the shooter of the deer. A second subject was interviewed and, again, at the outset denied taking a deer. He, too, quickly confessed when confronted with the witness account and his cohort’s confession. He took the officer to the location of the incident and, with the assistance of K-9 Nitro, the hidden carcass of the deer was quickly located. Both subjects were issued numerous tickets for taking wildlife from a motor vehicle, possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle and hunting deer during the closed season. Charges were pending in Columbus town court.                     

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