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New York Cuffs and Collars – November 15th, 2013

Unnecessary bear kill
(Steuben County)

ECO Steve Farrand received a call from central dispatch reporting a man on Watson Creek Road in the town of Tuscarora had shot a bear. Responding to the scene, the complainant reported he had heard a noise outside his trailer and, thinking someone may be stealing his ATV or lawn mower, went to investigate armed with his 12 gauge shotgun loaded with two deer slugs. As he rounded the corner of the trailer, he saw a bear which he claimed growled at him. He fired both slugs at the bear, but the bear ran off crashing into an area of heavy brush.  The homeowner was unsure if he hit the bear. Farrand retrieved his shotgun from his patrol vehicle and started a track in the direction the man said the bear ran. The officer soon heard the bear thrashing about in the brush and dispatched the injured animal. While inspecting the female bear for wounds, Farrand noticed she was lactating. Scott Smith from the Bureau of Wildlife Bath office was called and responded to assist. Her cubs were not found that day, but returning the next day the two cubs were located in a nearby tree and transferred to a rehabilitator in Oswego. After further review of the circumstances of the shooting, the homeowner was issued a ticket for taking a bear out of season as Farrand proved he had several options other than shooting at the bear.

Old habits die hard
(Livingston County)

On May 1, ECOs Brian Wade and Chris Ward and Lt. Josh Ver Hague displayed their issued “Tom the Turkey” decoys for the world to see. Within minutes of their setup, one individual was observed loading a turkey round into his shotgun inside his vehicle. The man quietly exited his vehicle attempting to shoot the “turkeys.” Much to the man's surprise, Wade quickly interceded before a round could be discharged. The man was issued one ticket for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. Next up, three individuals were observed riding in a four-door pickup truck. In the bed of the truck was a strapped-down four wheeler. This situation seemed interesting as they were heading onto state land. As the group passed the “turkeys” all three gazed upon the birds. Shortly thereafter, the truck was heading back toward the decoys and the patiently waiting officers. Wade was shocked to see one of the passengers riding on top of the four wheeler in the bed of the pickup. As the truck came to a slow stop, the rider shouldered a shotgun and discharged one round toward the decoys. Wade, Ward and Lt. Ver Hague descended upon the crew for the apprehension. Through interviews and license checks, it was determined that the three individuals were related. The driver was father to the passenger daughter and son shooter. Interestingly enough, further information detailed that father and daughter were involved in a deer decoy shooting from a roadway relatively close to the location about 10 years prior. All three were issued tickets for possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, with an additional two tickets served upon the father and son for discharging a firearm from a roadway. All six tickets were heard in Ossian Town Court. Civil compromises were offered and accepted to the four defendants on all charges. Each paid $200 plus a civil court fee of $2.50 per charge for total penalties of $1,215.

Bear complaints
(Cattaraugus County)

The last day of the month of May was a busy one for ECO Thomas Hansen, who had two different black bear complaints. The first bear had broken into the attached garage of a resident in the town of Allegany to get into the trash. The owner of the house got his gun but didn’t shoot the bear, which left the garage and ate the garbage outside on the lawn. The second bear complaint happened in the village of Allegany where a mother black bear was getting into the Frito Lay warehouse dumpster and taking out bags of chips and other goodies to her two cubs who waited at the edge of woods for their junk food snacks.

Big snake
(Erie County)

Senior Wildlife Biologist Kenneth Roblee, Lt. James Schultz and ECOs Scott Marshall and Mark Mazurkiewicz seized a 12-foot Burmese python at a Buffalo home after having received information from DEC Special Licenses Unit that an individual had violated the terms and conditions of an order from DEC’s commissioner. The snake was not being properly cared for and its caging was not adequate to prevent it from escaping. The owner was charged with violation of a permit condition and non-permitted possession of a wild animal, which were answerable in Buffalo City Court where Chief City Court Judge Thomas Amodeo was tol decide the matter. The snake was being properly cared for pending the court’s decision.

Emerald ash borer detail
(Madison County)

On May 24, Region 7 Zone 3 members participated in an invasive species detail located in the town of Lenox. A road check detail was set on State Route 31 near the town of Lenox/Sullivan line. All traffic coming through, both east and westbound, was stopped and checked for compliance with the possession and transportation of firewood in an attempt to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, an invasive species that attacks ash trees. Hundreds of vehicles were stopped and inquiries made as to the possession and or transporting of firewood. Verbal and written warnings were issued to subjects with firewood, and a small amount of firewood was seized for destruction. Madison County sheriff’s deputies assisting in the detail issued tickets for several vehicle and traffic law violations.

Street corner pesticide sales
(New York County)

On April 11, ECO Dustin Dainack received a complaint from an emergency room doctor that a 2-year-old child was admitted after ingesting an unknown pesticide. The child made a full recovery but the exact substance which made him so ill was a mystery, having come from a box of insect poison labeled only, “Cockroach Killer Bait, Fuzhou Control Termite Company.” The only information the child’s mother could give was that she bought the blue and white box of cockroach insecticide from a street vendor somewhere on 181st Street in Manhattan.  Dainack conducted surveillance on 181st Street, an area of Washington Heights, where street vendors set up every weekend along the sidewalks. As Dainack mingled unobtrusively in the crowd, he saw that some of the vendors were offering more than knock-off handbags and perfume.Illegal pesticides were being bought and sold as well. On April 27, Dainack conducted a detail with the assistance of Lt. Bruce Hummel, ECO Matthew Nichols, ECO Christopher Lattimer and DEC intern Rodriguez to target the illegal street vendors. Dainack and Lt. Hummel approached one male suspect who had the pesticides displayed on a milk crate and was in possession of 21 boxes of illegally labeled “Cockroach Killer Bait,” two packs of the pesticide Tempo Ultra and one black bag containing packets of an unknown brown powder. Additionally in his possession were four boxes of prescription Viagra, two boxes of prescription Cialis, one pill of Lepela and 16 pills of an unknown drug “Jamaican Rock.” A female suspect was in possession of four boxes of illegally labeled “Cockroach Killer Bait,” three packs of Contrac Rat & Mouse Killer and one pack of Ultra WSP (another pesticide). Dainack seized all of the pesticides. NYPD Officers Armato and Sheik from the 34th Precinct responded and arrested the suspect for the sale of the prescription drugs.

Illegal fire
(Orange County)

On May 5, ECO Aaron Gordon responded to an open burn complaint in the town of Montgomery where the responding fire department had requested an EOC to respond. When Gordon arrived, a large pile of debris was still burning even though the fire department was attempting to put out the fire. The pile of debris contained a wide variety of materials, including paint and varnish containers, tires, wood and other assorted materials from various construction sites. The property owner stated that he did not start the fire and suspected that some local kids trespassing on his property started the blaze. While Gordon was at the location interviewing the landowner, he observed numerous other environmental conservation law violations around the property. Oil drums and storage containers were situated all over the place, with oil leaking onto the ground in numerous locations. Gordon took numerous photos and documented everything he observed. The case was turned over to BECI, DEC’s criminal investigations bureau.

Diesel brunch
(Suffolk County)

On a rainy May 19, ECO Don Damrath heard a call over the Southampton police radio about a diesel fuel spill on Montauk Highway near the Shinnecock Canal. The officer responded to the location and immediately observed a strong odor of diesel fuel and a large sheen running eastward along the roadway and on the shoulder of Montauk Highway. The rain and gravity were pushing the fuel toward the Shinnecock Canal, but thankfully none had reached the waterway yet. With the assistance of Southampton Police Officer Rich Garafola, Damrath traced the source of the spill back to a shopping plaza in Hampton Bays, about a mile west of the canal. Parked in front of a deli was an old, beat-up landscaping company truck, leaking the entire contents of its diesel fuel tank (about 10 gallons) while its oblivious driver enjoyed a hot brunch inside the restaurant. Damrath terminated the landscaping crew's breakfast and contacted the Hampton Bays Fire Department to contain the spill. Damrath supervised the cleanup after confirming with the fire chief that none of the storm drains affected by the spill flow to the canal or area waters. Damrath issued several summonses, including misdemeanors to both the driver of the vehicle and the owner of the landscaping company. 

Moose on the loose
(Dutchess County)

On May 2, DEC wildlife staff, assisted by Dutchess County sheriffs, New York State Police Troop K, and town of LaGrange Fire Department, along with Lt. David Clayton, ECOs Robert Hodor, Deo Read and Claude Stephens, located, contained and sedated a yearling moose. The moose was then transported to a site in Region 5.

Bear in the city
(Orange County)

On May 14, ECO Kristina Markey responded to a bear complaint in the city of Newburgh. The bear was in a small patch of woods surrounded by apartment buildings.  Markey was assisted by Newburgh Animal Control and City of Newburgh Police in keeping the bear confined to that area and the public at a safe distance while waiting for DEC wildlife staff to arrive. Wildlife members Matt Merchant and Kevin Clarke were able to successfully tranquilize the approximately 200-pound black bear without incident and planned to release him the following day on state land.

Illegal 4×4 train derailed by ECOs
(Suffolk County)

On May 18, ECOs Chris Lagree and Don Damrath participated in a multi-agency, illegal off-roading detail in the Pine Barrens region. With the sun setting and the detail officially over, Lagree and Damrath decided to continue their stake-out of a section of the Rocky Point Preserve popular with nighttime off-roaders. As Damrath was surveying a large open field, he heard loud crashing noises and several panicked voices coming from the woods. The disturbance was coming from off-road vehicles that intended to access the field where Damrath was waiting. Upon seeing his patrol vehicle, the off-roaders hastily turned around in an attempt to flee. Damrath quickly radioed Lagree, who from years of experience patrolling the Rocky Point Preserve knew exactly where to set up a check point at the only point of escape for full-sized 4×4 vehicles. Within minutes, Lagree radioed Damrath that he needed his immediate assistance, as he had successfully stopped eight off-road vehicles on the trail attempting to flee the property. Forest Rangers Michael Thompson and Kevin Slade, who had just finished processing an illegal ATV rider on the north side of the preserve, responded to the scene, along with Suffolk County Park Police. Multiple summonses were issued to all off-road drivers, including charges of trespassing on state lands and illegally operating a 4×4 vehicle on public property. The number of vehicles in the off-road train apprehended at one time may be an unofficial record.

Alligator meat In Chinatown
(New York County)

On April 8, ECO Timothy Machnica was conducting a traffic stop on Division Street in Chinatown, Manhattan. During the traffic stop, Machnica noticed a small hand-drawn picture of an alligator on the door of a local shop, along with some Chinese handwriting and characters beneath the picture. After issuing a summons for the traffic stop, Machnica entered the establishment and saw alligator claws and alligator rib meat in one of the freezer display cases. The owner of the business was not able to provide any documents to clarify where the meat had come from and was also not able to provide a crocodilian permit to authorize the retail sale of the alligator products. The alligator meat was seized and a summons issued to the owner. Information was provided to the owner on how to obtain a crocodilian permit. The individual was to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Illegal horseshoe crabbing
(Suffolk County)

On May 7 at approximately 12:30 p.m., two subjects were found illegally harvesting horseshoe crabs at the Indian Island Suffolk County Park in the town of Riverhead. The two caught 77 horseshoe crabs and were leaving the area when Suffolk County Park police officer Mike Stopanin stopped the subjects. ECO Jeremy Eastwood responded to check the fishermen for proper permits. It was found that neither of the subjects possessed a valid commercial permit. Both men were issued a ticket for commercial horseshoe crabbing without a permit.

Horseshoe crab case
(Suffolk County)

On the night of May 23, Lt. Dallas Bengel and ECO Mark Simmons were patrolling the shoreline around Shinnecock Bay when they spotted a vessel with two occupants who were harvesting horseshoe crabs. With the trip limit down to 30 crabs, the officers were interested in checking the harvesters. However, due to foggy conditions and a lack of information as to where the crabbers might come ashore, the officers began a game of cat and mouse, crossing and recrossing the bay along the Ponquogue Bridge as the vessel would appear and disappear in the fog. Just when the officers thought they had lost track of the baymen, the vessel appeared through the fog, heading for shore. At 8:10 p.m., the officers met the vessel at its docking location at Molnar’s Landing in Hampton Bays. One man was found to be in possession of 209 horseshoe crabs – 179 over limit. He was accompanied by the owner of the vessel, who had no crabbing permit. The subjects were issued summonses for possessing over limit of crabs and failing to have a permit.

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