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New York Outdoor News Cuffs and Collars – July 14, 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.)

‘License for What?’
(Westchester County)

On April 8, ECOs Wes Leubner and Tony Drahms were checking fishermen in Croton-on-Hudson when they came upon four men leaving a popular fishing hole with rods and bags in hand. The officers stopped to ask the men if they had their fishing licenses. One man responded, “License for what?” The men admitted that they had been fishing and were not aware that a license is required. When the officers asked if they had caught any fish, the men said they had not. However, one man’s bag started to flop around, indicating that they had at least one fish in their possession. After a quick search, the officers seized 11 striped bass. In addition to fishing without licenses and possessing well over the daily limit of one fish per person, none of the striped bass were the required minimum length of 18 inches. All four men received tickets for fishing without a marine registry, possessing over-the-limit striped bass, and possessing undersized striped bass. The tickets were returnable to Croton-on-Hudson Village Court.

Trespassing leads to drug arrest
(Chemung County)

On April 4, Capt. John Burke observed a suspicious vehicle parked on Greatsinger Road in the town of Elmira. The posted property where the vehicle was parked has previously been used for illegal dumping and drug activity. Upon questioning the occupants of the vehicle, Burke suspected that the subjects were engaged in illegal drug activity in addition to trespassing. Burke contacted the Chemung County Communications Center and requested assistance. State troopers from the Horseheads barracks responded with an investigator from the New York State Community Narcotics Enforcement Team. As a result of the investigation, police seized three ounces of methamphetamine oil, two glass stems, and a vial containing methamphetamine residue. Police charged the two suspects with third-degree unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine, a felony offense. The suspects were arraigned in Elmira Court and remanded to the Chemung County Jail in lieu of $15,000 cash bail or $30,000 property bond. All hazardous items were removed from the scene by the Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team.

Gray seal on the beach
(Suffolk County)

On April 2, ECO Justanna Bohling was contacted by a concerned Suffolk County citizen stating there was an injured seal stuck on Sore Thumb Beach. In Suffolk County, residents are able to obtain a parking permit that allows them to drive 4X4 vehicles on certain state park beaches. The ECO obtained a pinpoint location and was advised that a crowd was forming around the seal. She contacted ECO Kyle Bevis to assist. When the ECOs arrived they located the seal and moved the crowd back to give it space. The officers contacted the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. Riverhead staff arrived within the hour to assess the seal and determined the two- to three-month-old gray seal pup was just sunning itself on the beach. Bohling and Bevis advised the beachgoers to let the seal be.

Pesticide enforcement
(Queens County)

While passing through Queens County recently, ECO William Chomicki observed a pest management truck traveling on Astoria Boulevard without the required New York state pesticide decals on two sides of the vehicle. Chomicki stopped the vehicle and contacted ECO Jonathon Walraven, a Queens County ECO, to assist with the stop. Upon further investigation, the officers found several unlabeled bottles of pesticides, a bottle of restricted-use pesticide, and unlabeled spray applicators in the cab of the truck. The ECOs also discovered the driver was the business owner’s cousin, does not work for the company, and does not have a proper pesticide applicator’s license. The ECOs issued tickets for violating the Environmental Conservation Law by failing to display pesticide decals on equipment and for possession of unlabeled pesticides. The ECOs also used the stop as a “teachable moment” and issued the driver a written warning for possession of restricted-use pesticides.

Path to trouble
(Nassau County)

On April 7, ECO Timothy Brown received a complaint regarding an individual undertaking a construction project on tidal wetlands. The complainant sent pictures of the alleged offense, which appeared to show work being done in a tidal wetlands area. Brown contacted staff from DEC’s wetlands unit and went to the scene. Upon arrival, it was apparent that fill was brought in to the area to help place stones for a walking path into the wetlands. In addition, vegetation was cut down surrounding the path and a bridge was being prepared to be put in place as well. The owner of the property was issued a Notice of Violation for violations of Article 25, Tidal Wetlands Act, will be ordered to remediate the entire area, and may face up to $10,000 in fines per violation.

Injured bird of prey
(Suffolk County)

On March 21, ECO Chris Amato was on foot patrol walking along the Carmans River in Southaven County Park when a red-tailed hawk came rolling down a hill in front of him. The bird had an injured wing and leg and was unable to fly. Amato contacted a local wildlife rehabilitator and, with help from ECO Nate Godson, captured the hawk and secured it for transport. The exact cause of the injuries was not determined and the hawk was taken to the Selden Emergency Animal Hospital. The hawk was then transferred to a rehabilitator.

Sea turtles and illegal ivory
(Queens County)

On March 22, after conducting pesticide sales enforcement in Queens County, ECOs Adam Johnson and Spencer Noyes entered a nearby antique shop. ECOs were looking for ivory that is occasionally sold from antique shops. However, during this visit their inspection found two sea turtle carapaces, one from a green sea turtle and one from a hawksbill sea turtle. The sea turtle carapaces are illegal to possess without a permit. Johnson and Noyes called nearby Queens ECOs Zach Brown and Lucas Palmateer and Staten Island ECO Jarred Lomozik to help complete their inspection. Ultimately, the team confiscated 13 assorted pieces of ivory in addition to the two carapaces. The store owner was ticketed for the sale of illegal ivory and the possession of threatened or endangered species or their parts without permits.

First (illegal) deer
(Washington County)

On March 23, ECO Matt Krug received a complaint through DEC’s dispatch center regarding an anonymous tip reporting a 25-year-old woman who had shot a 5-point buck during the 2016 hunting season without a hunting license. An electronic search confirmed the woman did not have a valid hunting license. The complainant provided a picture of the woman posing with the deer and described where the European-style mount of the deer’s skull was kept. Krug interviewed the woman at her home in the town of Jackson. She initially stated her father had shot the deer and that the antlers were a gift from him, but a search revealed that her father had not reported any deer taken since 2013. When confronted with the new information, the woman admitted that she had killed the 5-point buck with a 30-06 rifle behind her father’s house in White Creek. She stated that she didn’t have a hunting license because she had never taken a hunter education class. The mount was seized as evidence and the woman was issued appearance tickets for illegally taking a white-tailed deer and hunting without a license. The tickets were returnable to the White Creek Town Court.

Displaced dolphin
(Westchester County)

On March 23, ECOs Wes Leubner and Tony Drahms were called to the scene of a dolphin trapped in a canal connected to the Hutchinson River in an industrialized area of Mt. Vernon. The dolphin was alive and swimming, but exhibiting strange behavior, refusing to leave the shallow congested waterway. After speaking to marine mammal rescue staff, emergency responders determined that intervention at that point would be unsuccessful and likely do more harm than good. The recommended course of action was to leave the animal alone and wait for it to head back out into the bay on its own with the rising tide. Unfortunately, the animal was discovered deceased the following day in a smaller tributary of the Hutchinson River on the creek bank. ECOs recovered the dolphin’s carcass from the tributary, approximately one mile from its original location, with the assistance of the Westchester County Police Department and Pelham Manor Police Department. The carcass was transported to a nearby county facility for a necropsy to be performed by a pathobiologist with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. The initial assessment showed that the dolphin was a mature female, old for this species of common short-beaked dolphin. It was just under 7 feet long and weighed approximately 220 pounds. The common short-beaked dolphin is an oceanic species, native to the deeper, offshore waters of New York state. While its presence in brackish water far from the open ocean is unusual, experts noted that it isn’t unheard of for marine mammals to seek out warmer, shallower waters when distressed or nearing the end of its life cycle.

K-9 finds hidden striped bass
(Rockland County)

On March 24, ECO Maxwell Nicols was on patrol at the Hudson River dock in Bear Mountain State Park. Four fishermen were observed on the dock. One left the area and walked into the nearby woods, carrying a fish and returning empty-handed a short time later. The same subject was seen again carrying a striped bass toward the woods and coming back without the fish. With striped bass season still closed and the fishermen insisting to Nicols that they hadn’t caught any fish, ECO Ricky Wood and K-9 Deming were called to help find the hidden fish. K-9 Deming was the first Division of Law Enforcement K-9 certified in the detection of striped bass. Deming quickly alerted Wood to an area of snow-covered ground and, after scouring through the snow, the ECOs found a total of five striped bass and two catfish. Faced with the illegal fish, the fishermen admitted to catching the fish and were issued tickets for fishing without licenses, possession of striped bass out of season, and illegal taking of catfish, returnable to Stony Point Town Court.

llegal ice fishing
(Franklin County)

On March 26, ECOs Nathan Favreau and Jeffrey Hovey were on snowmobile patrol between Essex and Franklin counties to check for illegal ice fishing activity on remote trout ponds. Soon after the ECOs began the patrol they encountered a snowmobile parked at Pine Pond. Ice fishing and the use of live bait are prohibited on the 50-acre trout and salmon pond, located in the High Peaks Wilderness. Favreau and Hovey observed the owner of the snowmobile ice fishing with tip-ups and found that the man was also using live minnows for bait. The man claimed to be unaware of the fishing regulations and had never opened the New York State Fishing Regulations Guide in his 41 years of living in the Adirondacks. He was issued tickets for ice fishing in closed waters, possession of baitfish in prohibited waters, and failure to exhibit a baitfish receipt. All of the charges were returnable Harrietstown Town Court.

The circus is in town
(Albany County) 

On March 25, ECO Kurt Bush conducted a compliance inspection at the Carson & Barnes Circus at the Washington Avenue Armory in the city of Albany. Exhibition shows such as a circus in possession of exotic animals are required to obtain permits prior to bringing such animals into New York state. Bush determined that the circus had the correct permits required to display Asian elephants and found no permit violations.

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