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New York Cuffs and Collars – November 28th, 2013

Explosion of burning solid waste
(Greene County)

On June 10, ECO Mike Arp responded to a 911 call in the town of Cairo. The caller advised the Greene County 911 center that she had heard an explosion and then observed a smoke condition near the Catskill Creek. Upon arrival, the Cairo Fire Department was in the process of putting out a fire in a large pit which was dug by the property owner. In the pit was a large quantity of appliances and other unpermitted materials. The property owner was issued one ticket for open burning of prohibited materials and one ticket for improper disposal of solid waste. Both tickets were returnable to the Cairo town court.

Chlorine explosion
(Rensselaer County)

On June 27, an employee of H2O Solutions was adding an additive to a water system containing pellet chlorine when there was a reaction and the holding tank exploded. The employee was hit with chlorine and he and the homeowner exited the residence. Lt. Jim Hays, ECO Brian Canzeri and local fire departments responded, as did the Troy Haz-Mat team. The explosion caused powdered chlorine to be dispersed in the basement and a chlorine gas in the residence. The employee was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital and later released. Haz-Mat teams entered and removed much of the powdered chlorine and it was bagged and the gas was released through a controlled venting of the building. The building remained uninhabitable due to the remaining chlorine powdered residue and the continued release of small amounts of gas in the building. The company was to make arrangements for a cleanup under the direction of DEC spills unit personnel.

ECOs can count
(Schoharie County)

On June 8, T/Sgt. Keith Isles was on patrol at Mill Pond in the town of Sharon. He observed a rowboat working along the distant shoreline. Three people were in the boat and all were fishing. As the boat worked along closer to the parking area where Isles sat, it was obvious the person in the front of the boat noticed the patrol vehicle. Evidently his fishing rod suddenly got "hot," causing him to put it down. Observing further, Isles watched as the boat slowly rowed behind a large willow tree out of sight. As the boat came back into view, now there were only two people in the boat. The subject in front was missing. Using a PA system, Isles called the boat to shore. Questioning the occupants about the missing passenger, they said he decided to get out and walk home – four miles. Calling again, the subject came out of the woods. He did not have a valid fishing license. The “captain of the ship" also did not have a fishing license and was short one personal flotation device. The subjects were cited accordingly.

Black bass, carp and eels
(Albany County)

Several subjects were fishing in the Normanskill Creek one afternoon when ECO Kurt Swan arrived. Swan checked downstream from a parked car but did not observe anyone fishing. Moving upstream, he noticed one fisherman who had a fish on. Swan watched as another subject came over to assist with the landing of the fish. The second subject removed the fish from the line and threw it into the bushes. The action seemed quite peculiar and Swan settled in to watch the action. The first fisherman continued to fish, and the second walked in and out of view for a few minutes, then carried a plastic bag to a vehicle, placing it in the trunk. The fisherman then went back to the stream and began to fish near his friend. Both continued to fish and caught more fish that were placed in a pile on the rocks. While Swan was on his way down the bank to check their fishing licenses, he observed the second fisherman land a fish and then throw it into the bushes. A check of the vehicle and surrounding area revealed three out of season black bass, one large carp, and some eels. Both subjects were issued tickets for trespass, possession of out of season bass, and one angler was cited for no license.

Birds of a feather
(Albany County)

ECO Kurt Swan was in the city of Albany following up on a nuisance turkey complaint. A hen turkey had found itself a paradise with backyards full of bird feeders with plenty of seed. There were also small dogs and bicyclers to chase. Swan attempted to net the turkey and almost had it but the turkey managed to get away and promptly flew onto a roof to roost. As Swan was clearing that call, Albany County sheriff dispatch called to request assistance from an ECO. Swan responded and was summoned to a town park soccer field to free an owl from a net. It was unknown how long the owl had been in the net, but it took almost 10 minutes to free it as the net was wrapped around its body, wings and legs. The owl did not immediately fly away so Swan took it to a local vet that specializes in birds. At last check the owl was doing fine.

Bear cub gets a new home
(Greene County)

Approximately one year ago, it came to the attention of Region 4 law enforcement that an individual had a black bear cub that was not on his zoo license. To avoid euthanizing the unpermitted cub, an attempt was made to find a home for her at a licensed facility. A woman from Middleburgh who had worked at a zoo in Oregon visited the zoo and was less than pleased with what she saw there. She had a contact at the New York State Zoo in Watertown. Lt. Kevin Beiter contacted the New York State Zoo and they agreed to take the bear cub. On July 11, Regional Wildlife staff met Arp and Jan Baltrush, an animal care inspector from USDA-APHIS, at the suspect’s zoo to confiscate the bear. Upon arrival, the bear was already crated and the owner helped transfer her to a culvert trap (no drugs were needed). Wildlife biologists drove the trailer to Herkimer and transferred it to Region 6 wildlife staff, who then transported the bear to her new home at the zoo in Watertown.

Milk jug bear
(St. Lawrence County)

On June 5, ECO Scott Atwood received a call from a concerned homeowner regarding a bear that had an old metal milk jug stuck on its head. The homeowner advised the milk jug was covering the entire head of the bear, but the bottom was missing, allowing the bear to see out the end of it. Atwood and DEC wildlife staff had previously received several calls on the bear and had set up a bear trap in an attempt to catch it. It was believed the bear may have succumbed to having the metal jug on its head. To their surprise, the bear returned and revisited the homeowner one evening. The decision was made to try a second attempt at trapping the bear. The bear trap was reset and after two days the bear was caught. DEC wildlife staff and Atwood responded to the homeowner’s residence and came up with a game plan to remove the metal jug from the bear’s head. The local fire department was contacted to assist with the jaws of life to cut the metal jug off the bear’s head. The bear was tranquilized by the wildlife staff, taken out of the trap, and the metal jug was successfully removed. The bear was tagged and returned to the trap, where it came out of its stupor after being given a reversal drug to offset the tranquilizer. The bear was then transported to a nearby state forest and released back to the wild. Atwood and the wildlife staff were amazed at how long the bear was able to survive with the metal jug on its head due to the weight of the jug and the limited ability of the bear to eat. It was a true testament to how adaptive and powerful bears are.

One thing leads to another
(Westchester County)

On May 22, ECO Brian Toth was patrolling the Mt. Pleasant area when a landscaper was observed with several bags of pesticides in the bed of his pickup. The pesticide bags did not look familiar and a call to DEC pesticides personnel determined that they were not registered for use in New York. A discussion with the landscaper revealed that he was not registered as a pesticide applicator. When questioned about his pesticides, he said he had purchased them from a landscape supply company. He was issued two summonses for operating an unregistered pesticide business and distribution/use of an unregistered pesticide. He was also told to return the pesticides. The next day, Toth met Colleen Darcy of DEC’s pesticides unit at the landscape supply company in Katonah. An inspection of their facility was conducted, where more than six pallets of unregistered pesticides were found on the site and seized. Colleen also found several record-keeping issues during her inspection. Toth issued the company two summonses for distribution/use of an unregistered pesticide and selling restricted use pesticide without a permit.

Spill in Dutchess County
(Dutchess County)

On June 4, ECO Deo Read investigated a spill caused when a tractor-trailer struck a light pole while driving into the Getty gas station located in LaGrangeville. As a result of the impact, three of five of the trailer’s drain valves were damaged. The driver stated that he pulled the trailer’s emergency shut-off valve soon after the impact but it failed to stop the leak of 2,750 gallons of gasoline from the trailer, which spilled onto the parking lot and entered a catch basin. The catch basin was connected to a dry well which emptied directly into the ground. A nearby wetland showed no contamination. DEC spills unit was on the scene and American Petroleum hired to clean up the spill and empty the trailer with a vacuum truck. The cleanup was expected to take about a month to complete.

Uncooperative construction company
(Orange County)

On June 7, Lt. Martin Townley and ECO Aaron Gordon responded to a stormwater runoff complaint in the town of Goshen at a new home subdivision. Gordon had been to the location numerous times in the past year for complaints of stormwater leaving the site, and referred the complaint to the DEC’s Division of Water for administrative action regarding the violations. Even after numerous notices of violations had been issued by the DEC, the construction company was still violating the permit for the site. Photos were taken of multiple violations and two criminal tickets were issued to the owner of the company for violating the stipulations of their permit and for contravention of water quality standards for muddy stormwater entering a nearby registered wetland.

Snapping turtles for sale
(New York County)

On May 16, ECOs Timothy Machnica and Brent Wilson were conducting fish market inspections on Mott Street in Chinatown when they discovered snapping turtle meat that was being kept on ice in one of the shops. The store owner denied having any more snapping turtles, but during their routine inspection of a basement storage area in the store, the officers discovered 23 live snapping turtles. The turtles ranged from 10 to 30 pounds. The ECOs transferred the reptiles to Tea Town Lake Reservation in Ossining. Tea Town staff and DEC licensed wildlife rehabilitators Erin Baker and Lisa Kelly assisted with quarantine, rehabilitation and release of the turtles back to the wild. The owner of the store was issued a criminal summons and has an appearance date at Manhattan Criminal Court.

Deer on rooftop
(Orange County)

On May 27, Lt. Dave Clayton, ECO Aaron Gordon and ECO Deo Read responded to an unusual call of a wounded white-tailed deer stuck on top of the metal roof of a garage in the city of Port Jervis. ECOs Gordon and Read arrived first to assess the situation and confirmed that the safest plan was for the deer to be chemically immobilized and taken out of the area. Clayton arrived on the scene a short while later with the proper equipment and the deer was darted and removed from the location safely. The City of Port Jervis Fire Department assisted with their ladder truck to get the officers on the roof of the garage after the deer was down and the officers and the deer were lowered safely to the ground. It is still a mystery how the deer got onto the roof of the garage.

Obscure items for sale
(New York County)

On May 29, ECO Dustin Dainack patrolled to a store in Manhattan’s East Village to investigate a complaint that the owners bought and sold an endangered Pangolin, a scaly anteater, as was witnessed during the airing of the TV show “Oddities,” which follows the store owners and customers as they buy and sell antiques and items specializing in the occult, strange, dark or just plain obscure. During the course of the investigation it was revealed that sale of the Pangolin was staged for TV and was not, in fact, a member of the various endangered Pangolins (some species of Pangolins are threatened or endangered while others are not). Dainack warned the owners about the possession and sale of any endangered species and to be careful what they air on TV. Dainack inspected the items displayed in the store for any endangered or threatened species. Looking through the antique medical instruments and numerous taxidermy animals, Dainack didn’t find any known endangered species but he did notice a bucket of dried alligator claws selling for $20 each. The store did not possess the required permit to sell the protected alligator parts. Dainack issued a summons to the owner for the sale of the alligator claws as well as instructions on how to apply for the permit.    

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