New York Cuffs & Collars – August 9th, 2013
Yellow Lake patrol
(St. Lawrence County)
On March 9, while on proactive patrol, ECO Joe Munn decided to check Yellow Lake for ice fishing activity. When Munn scoped out the lake with binoculars he observed several groups of fisherman on the ice. The first couple of groups of ice fishermen Munn saw were all in compliance. When he arrived at his next check, he quickly observed several small crappies on the ice. Munn determined that all of the fish were undersized after measuring them. Munn interviewed the individual about the fish and the man replied that he had no idea that there was a size limit on crappie. The individual was issued a ticket for the taking of the undersized fish. After issuing the ticket, Munn moved on to the next group, where two people were fishing. The two quickly admitted they were from Pennsylvania and did not possess fishing licenses. Munn issued each of them a ticket for fishing without a fishing license.
ECOs Steven Lakeman and Ricardo Grisolini were conducting a truck enforcement detail on Sewage Plant Road in the city of Utica. It had been raining all day and the local streams were flooded. The Mohawk River was very close to where they were conducting the detail. Lakeman thought that he had heard a boat engine in the distance. He dismissed that thought because no one in their right mind would take a boat out on the river in its current state. The river was flowing very swiftly and the officers could see large trees floating down stream. A few minutes later, the officers heard the sound again. This time it was much closer. The ECOs observed a small craft with three individuals in it heading up the Mohawk River. The officers were able to follow the craft in their patrol vehicle, since the river paralleled the road. Lakeman hid his vehicle and waited for the subjects to return to the boat launch. The boat returned to the launch and the officers identified themselves. The subjects stated that they were thinking about buying the boat and wanted to take it for a test drive. They had no PFDs on board and it was not registered. The officers informed them of the dangers of not having life jackets and that the law states that they need to be wearing them this time of year. The three subjects were written for insufficient PFDs.
Trapper education course
On March 9, ECOs Scott Pierce and Keith Kelly hosted and taught a DEC trapper education course for the public. The course was held at the Piseco Education Center in Piseco. Thirty-two people attended the eight-hour course and all students passed. This course is mandatory for anyone who wishes to purchase a trapping license and then trap wildlife in New York state. The ECOs enjoyed the interaction with the sportsmen. Feedback from the attendees was excellent.
Hunter safety course
On March 30, ECO John Murphy was the lead instructor for a hunter safety course at the Lowville Fish and Game Club in the town of New Bremen, Lewis County. The workbook/home study course quickly filled up and was attended by 29 students. The classroom portion contained blocks of instruction in hunter ethics, laws and regulations, safe firearm handling, firearm nomenclature, and range time. ECOs Tim Worden, Tom Wensley and Shana Hutton also assisted with the course.
Deer cams and DECALS
Toward the end of the big-game season in December, ECO Steve Farrand received a complaint of two subjects trespassing for deer hunting on property owned by Eric Hurd. The complainant provided several trail cam pictures of the two subjects. Although Hurd had an idea who they were, he was not sure and the pictures were inconclusive. One of the photos showed a partial back tag number. Farrand provided the tag number to Donna Dyer and Scott Houde at DECALS and they began a search for that combination of numbers. While waiting for the results, the officer went to the home of one of the potential suspects the complainant had provided. Part of a deer was still hanging from a scaffold so Farrand asked for the deer tag and questioned about the trespass. The suspect, an Addison resident, and his son admitted to the trespass and also that he had failed to report the deer take. They were issued tickets for trespassing and the shooter was issued a ticket for failing to report the kill. DECALS provided a list of hunters with numbers matching the trail cam photo. Farrand narrowed down the list of subjects based on location and started tracking the hunters down. In March of 2013 he located a Lindley man, who when shown the photo also admitted to trespassing and was ticketed.
Over the limit
While patrolling the Genesee River in the town of Scio, ECO Ken Basile observed three men fishing at the DEC access site on Knights Creek Road. When Basile went to check for the men’s fishing license, he noticed they had trout scattered all along the bank. After counting the fish, Basile determined that the men were over the limit for their daily catch. Basile gave the men an opportunity to decide who was over the limit and issued one of the men a summons for having two fish over the daily limit of trout.
Ditching the trash
On March 30 on his day off, ECO Kinney went to the town of Pomfret transfer station. While driving down Webster Road, Kinney observed two bags of trash in the ditch. Kinney stopped and picked up both bags of trash. While at the transfer station Kinney checked both bags and found one piece of mail with a New Road, Dunkirk address and a key tag for a new 2013 Ford F150. On duty, Kinney went to the address and asked the woman who answered the door if she had a new truck, at which time she stated her son did. The officer asked her what she did with her trash and she stated she had her son take it to the transfer station on March 30 before going fishing. Mom was not happy when she found out where her trash ended up and called her son immediately and handed the officer the phone. The officer asked the son if he drove a 2013 F150. The answer was yes to that, as well as dumping the trash in the ditch. Tickets were issued for the illegal dumping of solid waste which was returnable to the town of Arkwright Court.
DEC radiation staffer Jerry Riggi and Lt. David Clayton, accompanied by Don Weiss, a DEC Region 3 monitor, visited the Dutchess County burn plant on March 13 to perform a radiological survey of a trailer exhibiting elevated readings. Utilizing a Ludlum Model 19 radiation detection device, the trailer was surveyed and the highest reading obtained was 1.0 mR/hr on contact located close to the rear of the trailer. The survey confirmed the findings of a previous survey performed by site staff. Utilizing a Thermo Identifinder, the cause of the elevated reading was positively identified as I-131, a short-lived isotope used in various medical procedures. Iodine-131 is commonly administered to patients for treatment and diagnosis; therefore, it is occasionally detected in residential garbage. Once it is discarded in the waste stream, radioactive material that had been administered to a patient in accordance with applicable laws and regulations is no longer regulated radioactive material. Because the radioactive material is not subject to regulation under 6 NYCRR Part 380, any solid waste that contains remnants of the administered radiopharmaceutical is not considered regulated radioactive waste. Therefore, disposal of this trailer load of trash was not prohibited.
On March 23 ECO RJ Ward was able to bring a successful conclusion to an illegal bear kill investigation that began on Nov. 6, 2012. The investigation began when a man from the town of Genesee in Allegany County called DEC dispatchers to tell them he had killed a bear in self defense. The caller wanted to know if he could have the bear carcass. Ward responded to the caller’s residence to interview him and take possession of the bear. When Ward arrived he found a small bear carcass near the caller’s front steps and a visibly nervous man. The caller told Ward that he climbed the hill behind his residence carrying a .22 caliber rifle to go squirrel hunting in a ground blind that he constructed out of sticks and leaves. He said as he was entering the blind, he heard a bear clawing at the outside of his blind. At that point the caller said he was in fear for his life as he believed the bear was about to enter his blind, so he pointed his rifle through the blind and fired once at the bear without aiming. The caller said he sobbed in his blind for 20 minutes before he located the deceased bear.
Ward examined the bear carcass and observed one .22 caliber bullet hole on the right side of the bear’s torso. Ward and the caller climbed the hill behind the caller’s home to reconstruct the shooting. The caller showed Ward the blind where he shot the bear, but because of the makeup of the blind, it was impossible to tell if a bear had, in fact, clawed at it. The caller showed Ward how the bear was moving as he believed it was going to enter the blind as he fired blindly at it. This is where the inconsistencies began to appear. If the bear was moving as the caller described, the bullet hole would be on the left side or center of the torso, not center-mass on the right side of the torso. Ward then followed the blood trail to the location the bear expired, but eventually lost the blood trail in the darkness.
Ward returned to the caller’s residence the following day with ECO Jim Hunt to attempt to follow the trail in the daylight and re-interview the caller. They climbed the hill and found the caller dragged the bear carcass in a circle before dragging it to his house. During the interview, the caller stuck to his story, saying he shot the bear in fear for his life.
Ward requested that a necropsy of the bear be performed by the DEC pathology lab. Necropsy results showed the bear was killed by a single shot to the right side of the torso that pierced both lungs and the aortic arch. The round was most likely fired at the bear as it was quartering away.
On March 23, Ward re-interviewed the individual at his residence. Ward informed the man that a necropsy was performed on the bear and the results didn’t support his story of how the bear died. The caller admitted the bear was walking away from him and was as far away from him as 40 yards when he fired his .22 rifle at it. He also admitted that he did not shoot blindly at the bear. He aimed through his scope and intended to hit the bear’s vitals.
Ward charged the individual with the illegal killing of a black bear. The charges are returnable to the Town of Genesee Court.
Illegal python possession
In February of 2013, ECO RJ Ward received a complaint that a Perry man was in possession of a Burmese python without a permit. The subject of the complaint was familiar to Ward. During the fall of 2012, DEC’s special licenses unit had requested Ward to look into the subject’s background because he was applying to possess several dangerous and venomous reptiles, one of which was a Burmese python. During that background investigation, Ward learned the subject was a convicted felon with several encounters with law enforcement. The subject’s request to possess dangerous and venomous reptiles was denied. The current complainant supplied a recent photo of the subject holding a Burmese python in his apartment.
Ward conducted several interviews, obtained two written statements, and was able to determine where the snake came from and that the photo was indeed taken inside the subject’s apartment. During the interviews, Ward learned the subject may be in possession of as many as six Burmese pythons as well as the other animals he had applied to possess. The complainant also talked of the possibility of both firearms and drugs. Ward was able to establish enough probable cause to apply for a search warrant for the subject’s residence and vehicle.
On March 27, a search warrant was executed at the subject’s residence. The search team included uniformed conservation officers, members of the Bureau of Environmental Conservation investigations unit, DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife and the New York State Police. During the search the Burmese python in the photograph was located. The snake was removed by DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife and placed with an authorized facility. The subject was charged with the illegal possession of a Burmese python. The charge was returnable to the village of Perry court.
Injured harp seal
On Feb. 18, ECO Dustin Dainack received a call from central dispatch that an injured seal pup was found on Rockaway Beach in Queens. A call was put into The Riverhead Foundation, an organization that rehabilitates sick and injured marine animals. The Riverhead Foundation provided two wildlife techs to assess the seal, but they would not be able to get there for approximately three hours. Dainack patrolled to the scene, located the seal, and waited on the freezing, windswept beach for several hours, reporting on the seal’s condition to The Riverhead Foundation while keeping citizens and an occasional dog away from the seal. Harp seals are primarily found in the Arctic but migrate south in the winter occasionally, with this one finding its way to New York City. Once The Riverhead Foundation arrived the technician, James Sullivan, determined that the seal was approximately three months old and most likely had mistakenly eaten sand or rocks, confusing it for ice, which the seals sometimes eat, especially when they are under stress. Dainack, along with members from the NYC Parks Department, assisted The Riverhead Foundation in getting the seal into a carrier and loaded onto a truck. The seal was transported to the Foundation’s headquarters in Riverhead, Long Island, where hopefully it will be rehabilitated with the intent of releasing back into the chilly New York waters.