Evidence in the snow
ECO Mark Simmons received a call from Lieutenant Dallas Bengel in reference to a fresh gut pile along the west side of Toppings Path in Manorville, which is Suffolk County Parklands property and not legal to hunt. Upon arriving at the scene, the officer observed boot tracks at Spot 33 on Otis Pike Preserve, the state property the hunters were assigned to hunt. The same boot tracks were found covering a large area of the Suffolk County Parklands. Simmons was then able to determine the location where the deer had been shot, and drag marks through the snow led the officer straight to the gut pile and two empty shotgun rounds. The ECO contacted the hunter check station to obtain the names of the hunters – two brothers who lived within five minutes of each other. Simmons asked for the assistance of ECO Matt Krug in order to interview the subjects separately. One of the men initially denied the illegal activity, but when presented with his brother’s more truthful version of events he also admitted that second deer was shot after their hunt as they were driving out. The brothers admitted to shooting two deer on Suffolk County Parkland property. They were each issued summonses each for taking a deer illegally and trespassing on county park land.
Whooo is there?
ECO Matthew Baker responded to a complaint of possible burning without a permit in the town of Thompson. When Baker arrived, the Monticello Fire Department was on scene and had the fire extinguished. It was determined by the local fire investigator that the fire was accidental as the owner and spouse were not present at the time. While looking for a possible cause for the fire, a deceased barred owl was discovered nailed to a wall in the basement of the residence. The owner was contacted and Baker met with him the following day. He was issued a summons for possession of a raptor without a permit.
ECOs Ian Helmer and Mike Unger arrived at a residence in Westbury in response to a complaint Helmer had received about a large snapping turtle being kept as a pet in a bathtub. When the officers arrived at the house, they were met by the resident’s brother. After explaining why they were there, the brother confirmed the information and asked if the officers would like to see the turtle. He led them to the bathroom of the residence and inside the bathtub was a snapping turtle with a shell approximately one foot in diameter, resting in an inch of water. Upon interviewing the brother, he revealed that his nephew had found the turtle in the wild several years ago. When his nephew captured the turtle it had been less than the size of his palm. The turtle was being kept in the tub because it had grown so large that it was the only means the family had to contain it. Unger explained that keeping a snapping turtle is a violation of environmental conservation law and that the turtle could not stay with them any longer. Unger then issued a warning notice for the violation of possessing a wild animal as a pet. Helmer contacted the Turtle Rescue of Long Island, where the turtle was placed for rehabilitation.
ECOs Brad Buffa and Anthony Rigoli were conducting commercial fish market and restaurant checks in Flushing. A total of five locations were inspected in the area and two were found be in with violation of possession of lobsters with a carapace length measuring less than 3 3/8 inches. The officers measured approximately 300 lobsters at both locations, finding 79 undersized. All of the undersized lobsters were seized as evidence and donated to the Bowery Mission. Each business was issued a summons for possession of lobsters out of the slot size.
ECOs Jeffery Krueger and Paul Pasciak and shellfisheries staff conducted a shellfish detail in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. The officers inspected markets for illegal shellfish that could impose serious health risks on consumers. During the detail, frozen blocks of freshwater clams and seafood mix, containing uncooked clams from China, were discovered. China is not an FDA-certified importer. The market was issued a warning and samples were taken for testing. At another market a forged copy of a shellfish tag was discovered, a summons was issued and the shellfish disposed.
Lobster by the pound
During a routine commercial fish shop inspection, ECO Marcia Goodrich seized three short lobsters. The owner of the shop stated that the lobsters had been delivered by a company and gave the officer the company’s name. Officers Marcia Goodrich and Ron Gross followed up on that information and inspected two companies, both operating from the same facility. During the inspection of the commercial lobster and shellfish distributers, 64 short lobsters were seized totaling 68 pounds. Both businesses were each charged with the illegal commercialization misdemeanor for possessing lobsters less than the New York state regulated size of 3 3/8 inches. The lobsters were released into the Long Island Sound.
ECOs Jeff Krueger, Anthony Rigoli and Paul Pasciak were inspecting a lobster distributor when they noticed a large fish tank containing an endangered Asian Boney Tongued Arowana in the office of the dealer. After complimenting the business on the great fish, the secretary proudly presented a certificate of authenticity and told the officers the hefty price they paid for the “lucky” fish. After notification that the fish was illegal to possess, the business argued that Arowana was a different species. The officers we able to confirm the identity. Although sad to lose their pet fish and receive a citation, the business was happy to know that the Arowana would bring a lifetime of good luck to its new home at the Bronx Zoo.
Abandoned chemical drums
ECO Don Damrath received a tip from a contracted snow removal company regarding abandoned chemical drums in an empty, unsecured warehouse in the city of Syracuse. The next morning Damrath investigated and observed some 100 drums and various containers scattered throughout the warehouse containing industrial solvents, petroleum products, acids and other unknown chemicals. Many of the containers were leaking or badly damaged. The Region 7 spills unit assumed control of the situation and remediation will likely be funded by the New York State Superfund Program.
ECO Don Damrath received a complaint about an individual burning solid waste on his property, resulting in thick, black smoke and terrible odors emanating from the burn pile. Damrath responded and observed several individuals surrounding a gutted Winnebago, and a warm pile of charred debris in a driveway. A man approached him and took full responsibility for the illegal burn, stating that he was dismantling the motor home for scrap to make money and getting rid of the useless stuff (fiberglass, plastics, insulation, tires) the same way he always had, by burning it. Damrath issued him a ticket for the illegal burn.