New York Outdoor News Cuffs and Collars — May 5, 2017
(Editor’s note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the state of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.)
On Feb. 1, ECOs Zach Brown, Adam Johnson, John Walraven, Lucas Palmateer, and Lt. Michael Buckley conducted a plainclothes operation to buy illegal ivory that was posted on Craigslist. The seller was contacted via email and a meeting was set up. Brown and Johnson met with the seller to confirm the authenticity of the 38 pieces of ivory. The plainclothes officers and the seller agreed on a price. Brown and Johnson called in uniformed ECOs Walraven and Palmateer to assist with processing the illegal ivory, which ranged from earrings to a smoking pipe. The seller was charged with the illegal commercialization of ivory and offering the sale of ivory.
No denying the evidence
On Feb. 1, ECO Mark Simmons received a call from a complainant who stated that he had found evidence of where a deer was taken near bait in the town of Brookhaven. Fresh peanut butter was found smeared on many of the trees, and a large pile of deer feed was in the area. In front of the blind, the ECOs found deer hair, blood and a crossbow bolt. The complainant had also stated that he had seen a deer on a truck several houses away from the location. ECOs Kaitlin Grady and Christopher DeRose responded with K-9 Cramer to assist with interviewing the suspect and locating the deer. No contact with the suspect was made, but K-9 Cramer located blood in the driveway and on a truck at the residence. ECOs Landon Simmons and Grady spoke to a local deer processor and found the processed meat, head and hide from a young buck that had been tagged by the suspect. The ECOs were able to determine the approximate time and date that the deer had been shot. K-9 Cramer also located the gut pile from a deer matching the size and sex of the deer at the processor. The following day, Simmons and Grady met with the suspect. He initially claimed that he had shot the deer on Jan. 31, while the season was still open, with a compound bow in an adjoining town. Then, after being presented with the evidence, the suspect admitted to unlawfully taking the deer with a crossbow over the bait after the season had closed. The suspect was charged with taking deer over bait, taking deer with an unspecified implement using a crossbow, taking deer out of season, failing to tag deer properly, and illegal take of a deer. On Feb. 12, the illegal hunter met with Lt. Tom Gadomski at the Regional Office and signed an Order on Consent, admitting the violations and paying $2,000 to settle the case.
On Feb. 2, ECOs Josh Sulkey and Ricky Wood investigated an illegal dumping complaint on Berme Road in the town of Wawarsing, where bags of garbage had been dumped over an embankment. The ECOs went through several of the bags and were able to find a number of personal documents, all belonging to the same person. The ECOs then went to the address on the documents and observed a vehicle parked in the driveway loaded with garbage. They spoke with the resident and showed the resident the documents found at the scene. A ticket was issued for the unlawful disposal of solid waste, returnable to Wawarsing Town Court.
On Feb. 3, ECO Jeannette Bastedo responded to a report of a man conducting work in a stream in the town of Shawangunk. At the site of the complaint, Bastedo located an excavator that had been used to dig a portion of a stream, and recent disturbances to the bed and the bank of the stream. On Feb. 7, after confirming with DEC’s Bureau of Habitat that the stream is a protected Class B trout stream, Bastedo returned to the location and issued a ticket to the man responsible for the excavation work for disturbing a protected stream without a permit, returnable to Shawangunk Town Court.
ATV, snowmobile plunge into river
Three men on an ATV and a snowmobile broke through the ice while attempting to cross the frozen Raquette River at around 6 a.m. on Feb. 4. Two men were on the ATV and the third was operating a snowmobile when they were crossing the river to attend the annual Tupper Lake Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby on Simon Pond. Both machines went through the ice and sunk. Other snowmobilers and a nearby resident were able to rescue the men from the frigid waters without any injuries. The Tupper Lake Rescue Dive Team and DEC personnel responded to the scene. However, attempts to recover the two machines from the water were unsuccessful on that Saturday. The following day, the Tupper Lake Rescue Dive Team and ECO James Cranker returned, and with the help of a road grader, the snowmobile and ATV were removed from the river. No tickets were issued to the operators of the machines and no environmental damage occurred.
On Feb. 9, ECOs Kyle Bevis and Justanna Bohling were assigned to assist New York State Police with their 4×4 vehicle patrols in the towns of Islip and Smithtown due to an impending snowstorm and resulting poor road conditions. Bevis and Trooper Coppola were assigned to patrol the Sagtikos and Sunken Meadow parkways, while Bohling and Trooper Gallagher patrolled the Robert Moses and Southern State parkways. The joint patrols were tasked with assisting disabled motorists and safely returning them to the roadway, if possible, facilitating the arrival of tow trucks, clearing debris from accidents, and directing traffic. The ECOs handled slick roads, heavy snow and white-out conditions. Between the two teams, the ECOs assisted 18 disabled motorists throughout the day.
On Feb. 11, ECO Tom Koepf checked the licenses of ice fishermen on Swinging Bridge Reservoir in the town of Thompson. There were several dozen people on the ice that day, and most were in compliance with state fishing regulations. The final group of fisherman that Koepf spoke to were two men from New Jersey. Both men stated that they had not caught any fish that day. However, during a check of all of their gear, Koepf located a five-gallon pail containing a legal-sized black crappie and a large bass. Because bass season was closed, Koepf inquired why they had kept it. One of the fishermen stated that he was having a slow day, and “Wasn’t only going to fillet one crappie.” He was issued a ticket for taking bass during the closed season, returnable to Thompson Town Court.
Ice fishing derby
On Feb. 11, ECOs Joshua Sulkey and Jeannette Bastedo attended the Wittenberg Sportsmen’s Club fishing derby in Woodstock. Many club members and their guests showed up for the event and trophies were awarded at the end for the largest fish and for the most fish caught. Several large yellow perch were among the fish caught during the derby.