On April 8, ECO Jamie Powers responded to a complaint of an unlawful burn in the town of Cincinnatus. Upon his arrival he observed two individuals dismantling an abandoned house. Both subjects were tending a large open fire located at the rear of the house on the bank of a trout steam. The contents of the fire included demolition materials from the dismantling project. Both individuals stated that they were being paid $20 per hour by the owner of the house to dismantle the condemned house so it could be leveled. They said they were burning all the garbage they were finding. They were instructed to immediately put out the fire and remove all the ash and debris from the bank of the stream. A burn barrel was also located behind the house that one of the subjects had been using to dispose of his household trash. ECO Tom Fernandes returned with Powers later to ensure the fires had been extinguished and both subjects were issued tickets for the unlawful open burning and disposing of refuse in a trout stream.
A hunting we will go
On April 4, ECO Matthew Harger received a complaint in the town of West Monroe from a sportsman who, while fishing with his family, observed two individuals firing a rifle into the water. What the two individuals didn’t realize is that the projectiles were ricocheting off the water and traveling dangerously close to other fishermen. When Harger arrived on scene, the two individuals had taken their activities into a swampy section of the Big Bay State Wildlife Management Area. Following the noise of the gunfire, Harger spotted the two individuals and began to follow them. As the two walked through the swamp they seemed to be firing the rifles at random targets of opportunity that included trees and the occasional songbird. Just as the officer was about to approach the individuals to put an end to their shooting spree, two beavers appeared in a nearby waterway and swam into the sights of the two. Both men fired and, by the actions of the beavers, it was apparent that the men had hit their targets. The individuals were very surprised to see the ECO and immediately placed their rifles on the ground. Neither of the two had any type of hunting license but admitted that they knew what they were doing was wrong. Harger escorted the pair out of the swamp and back to their vehicle, where the firearms were secured and several citations were issued for numerous environmental conservation law violations.
On April 18 just before midnight, ECO A. Charles Wilson received a call from the Buffalo Police Department regarding several individuals catching fish with large nets. The ECO immediately suited up and patrolled to the Upper Niagara River. It was determined that six individuals in two separate groups had in their possession hundreds of large shad. In total there were five five-gallon buckets and three large garbage bags filled with fish. The men, all from Bangladesh, were advised that it was unlawful to utilize large cast nets to take fish. In all, five summonses were issued for violations, including taking fish by means other than angling, fishing without rod and reel, and fishing without a license. The tickets were made returnable to the Buffalo City Court.
On April 23, Officer Jason Powers received a phone call from a concerned citizen about a large fire in the town of Royalton. The smoke, which could be seen for miles, was located on a farm property about 200 yards from the road. Powers investigated the source of the fire causing such volumes of smoke. It became obvious there were many objects in the fire, including numerous plastics, insulation, metal buckets, a couple of screen doors and window screens. Ironically, it also appeared as though there were old fire extinguishers included as well.
Shortly thereafter a truck driven by the landowner approached and asked what the problem was. When questioned about the fire, he made numerous attempts to minimize and downplay the situation until he finally realized that the burning of a large pile of these materials was probably not a healthy thing for the environment. He finally asked how Powers came about investigating his property and how he found the pile. Powers explained to him that many folks (Powers included) had noticed the smoke from miles away. As the landowner acted very surprised by this account, Powers reminded him that smoke signals had been a successful method of gaining attention for years. The landowner was issued a misdemeanor citation for an illegal burning of solid waste and was scheduled to appear in Royalton Town Court.
Failure to report a spill
ECO Thomas Hansen received a complaint on car dealership in Olean regarding an oil spill at the dealership back in November of 2012 that was never reported to the department. The complainant stated there had been a spill of about 300 gallons of waste oil that had never been reported by the dealership’s management. After interviewing and receiving a signed deposition from the complainant, Hansen and a DEC spills engineer inspected the site. Interviews with the service manager and company employees confirmed the 2012 spill. It was determined that the spill has been cleaned with speedy dry and disposed of in the company dumpster, five-gallon buckets at a time. The owner of the car dealership was charged with failure to report a spill and agreed to settling the violation with a consent order.
Leaking waste hauler
On April 12, ECO Roger Thompson responded to call of a leaking waste hauler at the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge. Upon arrival he found a tractor/trailer in the parking lot leaking an unknown liquid substance from several areas of the trailer onto the ground. U.S. Border Patrol personnel provided Thompson a copy of the readings taken when the vehicle was scanned for radioactive material. The contents of the trailer recorded higher than the allowable threshold level for municipal waste and low-level radioactive medical waste. The operator of the vehicle was directed to return to Canada after the company posted an “Illegal Entry” bond for customs. The driver was issued tickets by Thompson for transporting low-level radioactive waste without a permit and depositing noisome/unwholesome substance on ground. Those charges were returnable in the Lewiston Town Court.
Just when you think you heard it all
On April 12, ECO Shawn Dussault was patrolling local creeks during the annual walleye spawn in the town of West Monroe. While traveling on State Route 49 he crested a small hill and came upon a vehicle off the road. As the officer got closer, he realized the vehicle was severely damaged and that the power lines were resting atop the vehicle. Pulling up to the accident as the dust was settling, the officer could tell he had missed being a part of this accident by seconds. He pulled to the side of the road and assisted the driver from the vehicle. Noticing the nearest utility pole had been snapped in half and the wires were still live, Dussault escorted the uninjured man from the scene. As they walked, it was apparent that the driver was very intoxicated. Once back at the officer’s vehicle, the driver could barely keep his balance and was speaking very incoherently. Suspicious that the driver was highly intoxicated, Dussault began to ask the usual DWI investigative questions. He asked the driver how many drinks had he consumed that evening. Without missing a beat the driver jumped to his feet, pointed at his totaled car and blurted out, “obviously way too much!” When asked where he was coming from, the driver told the officer he was at the bar. The driver then proceeded to tell the officer about the drinks he had before going to the bar and all the drinks he had while at the bar. The subject was checked by EMS personnel, arrested for DWI, and turned over to the state police for processing. It was unbelievable the driver’s vehicle and utility pole were the only victims that night. It was later determined that the driver’s blood alcohol content was .22 percent. This evidence, along with the wonderful statements provided by the driver, should make a solid case. Hopefully this young man will learn a valuable lesson.
On April 6, Lt. Ric Warner fielded a call from a complainant in reference to two kayakers paddling on the Chenango River in the town of Fenton. The two men had located a sick or injured juvenile bald eagle standing along the shore. ECOs Eric Templeton and Jamie Powers responded in an attempt to lend assistance to the eagle and quickly secured the bird. The bird was transported to Dr. John Parks of the Cornell Raptor Center. Unfortunately, the bird succumbed to the injuries prior to arriving at Cornell. A necropsy conducted by Cornell did not indicate that the bird had suffered a gunshot injury. The results of a complete post mortem were pending.
Youth turkey hunt
ECOs Brett Armstrong and Jamie Powers took the initiative this year to create the formation of a “now-to-be-annual” Chenango County Youth Turkey Hunting event for youths to have the opportunity to hunt with an ECO. The event was extremely well planned and included a safety day the weekend prior to the hunt where students were instructed on many aspects of turkey hunting and safety. Shotguns were patterned and safety rules were put into place for the following weekend. The weather for the youth turkey weekend was less than cooperative, and although no birds were taken, all of the youths who participated had a great time. All groups saw birds and experienced the excitement of gobblers and hens responding to calls. In addition to Armstrong and Powers, Lt. Ric Warner, T/Sgt. George Scheer, ECOs Andy McCormick, Nate Doig, and Kevin Thomas lent a hand in taking youth hunters afield for the event.
Fourth Annual Youth Turkey Hunt
ECOs John Stansfield, Josh Crain, Scott Angotti, BECI Investigator Chris Didion and Lt. William Powell participated in the Fourth Annual Yates County Youth Turkey Hunt. The annual hunt began in 2010 and was co-founded by DEC Lt. Matt Lochner (Schuyler County Sportsmen Education Coordinator), Steve Wheeler (Yates County Master Sportsmen Education Instructor) and Dale Lane (Eagle Eye Outfitters), along with the assistance of several volunteer callers and generous donations by local businesses. The annual event began with a dinner presentation at the Seneca Lake Duck Hunter’s Club, where Lt. Lochner discussed hunting ethics, followed by “The 10 Commandments of Firearms Safety” presented by Steve Wheeler and Crain. Next, all 21 kids were given a youth turkey vest, hat, gloves, facemask and calls. Names were then pulled out of a hat and two lucky hunters won 20 gauge youth shotguns. The youth hunters also received a one-year NWTF JAKES membership, which was donated by the Seneca Lake Chapter of the NWTF. Thanks to the time and effort put in by the volunteer callers, the youth hunters had a total of 17 shot opportunities, resulting in nine turkeys being harvested during the two-day hunt. After the Sunday morning hunt, everyone met for pictures and a picnic lunch. At that time, all the kids received prizes ranging from calls and decoys to a lifetime hunting license which was generously donated by Eagle Eye Outfitters.