New York Cuffs & Collars – September 20th, 2013
Injured hawk flies again
(New York County)
On March 29, ECO Dustin Dainack received a call about an injured red-tailed hawk on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The hawk was discovered struggling to fly by maintenance workers at the NYC Housing Projects on East 6th and Ave D. As Dainack arrived the workers had managed to get the hawk into a box. Dainack then transported the hawk to the Wild Bird Fund, a veterinary bird hospital and rehabilitation center on the Upper West Side. The hawk was determined to have an injured foot, possibly from a window strike. Three days later, Dainack received a call from the Wild Bird Fund that the hawk had made a full recovery and could be released back into the wild urban environment of New York City. Dainack brought the hawk back to the same pocket park where it was discovered and watched as the hawk took off to the tree tops effortlessly. Less than five minutes later however, the hawk swept back down into the grass. As Dainack approached he could see why: the hawk had caught a nice-sized rat and, after making sure the rat was dead, flew back into the sky, rat and all.
Same story doesn’t work trice
On March 29, ECO Kristina Markey was conducting fishing checks along the Hudson River in the town of Stony Point. One individual, already in possession of a legal-sized striped bass, stated that he had attempted to obtain his marine registration at the local town clerk’s office, where he had been told that he did not require anything to fish the Hudson River. The ECO asked if he didn’t think she would remember him from a week before when he had given the same story and she had given him a verbal warning. The subject could offer no valid excuse for not having his marine registration, especially after having been specifically instructed to have it before fishing again. He was issued one ticket for the violation.
First Wildlife Amnesty Day
On April 27, Region 1 Division of Law Enforcement officers participated in the first wildlife-related amnesty day held in New York state. After several alligators were abandoned in local ponds in Suffolk County between 2012 and as recently as March, the Suffolk County SPCA approached the Division of Law Enforcement about the idea of a wildlife amnesty program. Region 1 Division of Law Enforcement personnel drafted a plan and worked with Office of General Services to obtain the authorization necessary to grant amnesty to persons in possession of otherwise unlawful reptiles and amphibians. Three alligators, a six-foot boa constrictor, and two turtles were recovered during the event, which received much attention from the local media.
On April 1, ECO Don Damrath took advantage of the April Fool’s day fair weather and calm seas to check some popular shellfish digging spots on foot in the town of Southampton. While checking a familiar commercial digger's haul as he came ashore, Damrath observed a man in full camouflage inconspicuously sorting something in the weeds along the shoreline. The ECO approached the man and observed him sorting and bagging a commercial amount of hard clams. When asked for his shellfish digger's permit, the digger claimed he had been digging in the area for years and didn't know that he needed one, then claimed he had one but that it had expired, before finally admitting he did not have a digger's permit. Damrath allowed the digger to keep 100 legal-sized clams (the legal recreational limit), but made him return some 600-700 clams back into the bay. The delinquent digger received a summons for failing to have a valid digger’s permit.
April deer season?
On April 6, New York State Trooper Joel Vanderpool observed a vehicle spotlighting a field in the area where he was running radar. He followed the vehicle for a while and observed the vehicle pull into a field and shine its headlights on four deer. Immediately as the vehicle stopped, a spotlight came out of the rear passenger window and a crossbow came out the front passenger window. Trooper Vanderpool stopped the shooter before he shot any of the deer. ECO George LaPoint was called to the scene, where he issued the subjects, from Staten Island, tickets for hunting deer during the closed season and use of lights on lands inhabited by deer while in possession of a crossbow. All subjects were to appear in Thurman town court.
Bear season finally finished
Stemming from an investigation of a northern Warren County outfitter, final court proceedings were completed on April 12. Originally, in September of 2012 three deer hunters and one licensed guide were charged and convicted of hunting bear with the aid of a pre-established bait pile. The owners of the guide service and his son, both New York State licensed guides, were charged and convicted of hunting bear with the aid of a pre-established bait pile. The father was also charged and convicted of feeding bears. The son, a licensed bear-dog owner, was charged and convicted of violating terms and conditions of his bear-dog license. A total of $1,300 in fines was collected.
Smelt fishing enforcement
Long before first light on April 23, ECO Keith Kelly hid his patrol vehicle and made his way to a vantage point along Eagle Creek, a brook that flows into Fourth Lake of the Fulton Chain near the Hamilton-Herkimer county Line. In Fourth Lake tributaries, fishermen are allowed to use dip nets between April 1 and May 15 each year to take up to eight quarts of rainbow smelt between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. As the majority of spawning smelt are in the brook during late evening and early morning hours, these fishing time limits allow the greatest numbers of smelt to lay and fertilize their eggs and return to the lake safely, as well as provide fishermen an opportunity to harvest some easily. Maintaining a healthy population of rainbow smelt in Fourth Lake helps supports the water’s larger fish population, including lake trout. At approximately 4:25 a.m., a vehicle stopped near the brook and three men jumped out. Although they had traveled more than 50 miles to get there, they were already wearing their hip waders. As the officer watched, the three fishermen began shining their lights into the water looking for smelt and catching them with long-handled dip nets. Before legal fishing hours even began, the three rushed out of the creek, loaded their catch and sped off. Kelly ran back to his patrol vehicle and moments later apprehended the three subjects. Evidence seized included 46 quarts of smelt, nearly twice the legal limit. The trio were charged with taking smelt by dipping before legal hours. Each subject faces fines and surcharges of up to $650 and up to 15 days in jail.
Wildlife matter resolved
On April 11, ECO Denise Ferraro was informed that a wildlife rehabilitator in Massapequa had received a notice of violation from the town of Oyster Bay for harboring a dangerous animal (a bobcat). The town discovered the bobcat as a result of neighbors complaining about the noise at the home. The licensed rehabilitator was told he would have to cease and desist using his residence as a rehabilitation facility. After Ferraro received this information, she conducted an inspection of the facility, discovering that the rehabilitator was operating his facility with two expired DEC permits. During her inspection she found him to be in possession of an eastern box turtle, a peregrine falcon, screech owl, a red-tailed hawk and a juvenile eagle. Summonses were issued for possessing the hawk and eagle without valid permits to do so, returnable to Nassau District Court. In the interim, Ferraro assisted the rehabilitator in renewing his permits and assisted the town in finding an alternate location to house the animals. Through a cooperative agreement between the town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County, the rehabilitator will be permitted to use the county run Tackapausha Museum to do his rehabilitation work, in exchange for his assistance caring for the county’s animals.
Not to be outfoxed
In mid-April, ECO Don Damrath received a vague, anonymous tip about a Southampton resident in possession of red fox pup. The person with the pup had supposedly posted a picture of himself holding the fox on Instagram. A couple of weeks later another tipster called ECO Josh Sulkey, claiming he overheard some individuals talking outside of a Southampton 7-Eleven store about possessing a red fox pup and an alligator. The complainant followed one of the individuals in his vehicle to a nearby neighborhood. Sulkey called Damrath with the information. Armed with those tips and the Internet, the ECOs found three Southampton addresses that might be possible locations of the illegally possessed animals. Damrath started knocking on doors, and when a woman at the second house answered the door with a shocked look on her face the ECO knew he had found the right house. After a few minutes of stalling, in a futile attempt to hide the illegally possessed wildlife, a young man eventually came to the door and admitted to having two baby squirrels in the basement. Damrath received consent to search the house. Despite suffering from an apparent case of sudden-onset amnesia, the young man's memory eventually returned and he led Damrath to the squirrels, a snapping turtle, and a healthy-looking red fox pup, as well as several legally possessed snakes – but no alligator. The 19-year old man claimed a tree-trimmer had brought him the squirrels, he bought the snapping turtle on-line and he picked up the fox after seeing it walking down the road in the neighborhood. Damrath issued summonses for illegally possessing protected wildlife and transported the animals to the Hampton Bays Wildlife Rescue Center.
9,000 pounds Of illegal oysters
On Jan. 8, ECO Matthew Nichols was tipped off by the Food and Drug Adminstration that a seafood wholesaler in Brooklyn was in possession of raw oysters from China. Nichols and Lt. Bruce Hummel responded to the wholesaler and located over 3,000 pounds of raw oysters that had been smuggled into the U.S. from China as “fish balls.” Through investigation it was determined that the company had another shipment of the same product already ordered and heading for the U.S. The oysters were seized in place until testing could be completed. When finalized, the tests revealed the oysters were, in fact, raw. On March 4, Nichols was again tipped off by the FDA that another seafood wholesaler in Brooklyn might be in possession of potentially raw oysters from China. On March, 13, the second 3,000-pound order of raw oysters was intercepted and seized before it could make it to the market. Nichols responded to the location of the wholesaler and found another 3,000 pounds of raw oysters smuggled into the U.S. as “fish balls.” Between the two companies, 9,000 pounds of raw oysters were seized and prevented from entering the food market place for consumption. In addition to having to dispose of the raw oysters, both companies agreed to settle their potential felony charges administratively and paid fines totaling $7,500 plus evidence disposal fees that totaled approximately another $3,000.