New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – Dec. 29, 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.)
Alligator/rattlesnake parts at flea market
On Sept. 2, ECO Deo Read received information that two booths at the Stormville Flea Market were allegedly offering protected wildlife parts for sale. Read searched for the booths, finding one selling an alligator head, feet, jawbones and teeth, and rattlesnake hides. The seller claimed the parts were legal. The ECO explained to the subject that he would need a permit to possess/sell any of these items in New York state. The seller was issued three summonses for possessing and offering the animal parts for sale without a permit. The seller was given the special license office telephone number and told he should inquire about getting the required permits. The seller removed the items in question from sale and the case was pending in East Fishkill Town Court.
(Otsego and Delaware counties)
On Sept. 3, ECOs Russell Fetterman and Ryan Wing, an August graduate of the 21st Basic Academy, rescued an ill great-horned owl in the town of Laurens, Otsego County. On Sept. 4, ECO Nate Doig responded to a report of a sick red-tailed hawk in the town of Hamden, Delaware County. Both birds were taken to licensed wildlife rehabilitators for evaluation and treatment with the hopes of returning the birds to the wild.
Garbage dumper confesses
On Sept. 4, ECOs Tom Koepf and Corey Hornicek received a complaint that garbage had been dumped at a public fishing access at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area in the town of Mamakating. The officers arrived and began to sort through five large contractor bags full of food waste and household garbage. Two pieces of incriminating evidence were found in the trash, both of which included an address in the nearby village of Wurtsboro. The two officers drove to the suspect’s residence the next day for an interview. The 22-year-old male suspect denied dumping the garbage at first, but later confessed and apologized after being confronted with the evidence. Two tickets were issued to the man for unlawful disposal of solid waste and depositing a noisome/unwholesome substance on or near a public highway.
Illegal September buck
On Sept. 6, ECO Chris Lattimer received a call that someone had shot a buck near Union Avenue in the town of New Windsor. Lattimer called DEC wildlife staff and found that no deer damage permits were issued in that area. Lattimer spoke with the New Windsor Police Department dispatcher who had taken the original call from the shooter, who reported that he had shot the buck under a deer damage permit and was unable to find it. He had left his number and asked to be contacted if anyone found the deer. ECOs Corey Hornicek, Tom Koepf, and Lattimer went to the area in question and within 20 minutes, Koepf located a dead 8-point buck. Hornicek removed the bullet and, as the deer did not appear to be fit for consumption, photographed it and retained the head and bullet as evidence. Lattimer then contacted the subject who had reported shooting the deer, who then stated that he was hunting the nearby apple orchard on a deer damage permit. However, the permit was for a location in Ulster County. Charges were pending for multiple violations of the Environmental Conservation Law.
Polar bear on Craigslist
On Sept. 7, Division of Law Enforcement investigators and ECOs worked together to coordinate and execute an undercover operation involving the unlawful sale of a polar bear skin rug. In New York state it is illegal to sell a polar bear skin without obtaining the proper permits. The person selling the rug offered it as a private sale on Craigslist from his home in the Bronx. Investigators contacted the seller and arranged to purchase the rug for $15,000. One investigator and an officer entered the residence in plain clothes, with uniformed members waiting around the block. Once the officers observed the rug and the offer for sale was finalized, the officers identified themselves and seized the rug as evidence. Closer inspection revealed that the rug was authentic polar bear skin. The individual was written a notice of violation and charges were pending. He faces a class E felony charge and up to $2,350 in civil penalties.
A sticky situation
On Sept. 9, the opening day of early bear season, ECOs Max Nicols and Lucas Palmateer were patrolling Pochuk Mountain State Forest in Warwick. Multiple vehicles were parked at the trailhead, and one vehicle in particular caught the ECOs’ attention when they noticed a box containing jars of honey visible on the passenger seat. The officers spoke with three hunters at a campsite who had just returned from bear hunting, where they spotted jars of honey, a bag of apples and an empty jar of peanut butter on the ground. Recognizing these items as possible bear bait, the ECOs engaged the hunters in conversation about where they planned on hunting in the morning. The next day, ECOs Nicols and Palmateer returned to Pochuk State Forest and located the hunters in the area described. The hunters immediately began to pack up and leave. The ECOs checked the area for bait, and again located two piles of illegal bait – cold cut meats and sausages, pastries, peanut butter, and multiple piles of white rice stuck together with honey. They called the hunters back to their location. However, one of the hunters took off running down the mountain. Nicols caught him at the campsite while Palmateer stayed with the other hunters. All three hunters were issued tickets for hunting bear with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, and the subject who fled was issued a ticket for failure to comply with a lawful order of a conservation officer.
Illegal deer hunting at night
(St. Lawrence County)
On Sept. 9, ECO Joel Schneller received a call from a complainant regarding the shooting of a pair of whitetail bucks that had been illegally taken earlier that evening in the town of Russell, St. Lawrence County. The man was later interviewed and admitted to taking both deer from a field located on West Road in Russell. He was charged with taking a deer with the aid of an artificial light, possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway, and taking deer during the closed season. In addition to the misdemeanors, he was also charged with the violations of hunting without a license, taking deer from a public highway, failure to tag deer, and using rim fire ammunition to hunt deer. If convicted, the subject faces combined fines up to $10,000, revocation of hunting privileges for up to five years, and forfeiture of the rifle used during the illegal activity. All charges were pending in the Russell Town Court. ECO Bret Canary assisted in the investigation.
Oyster toadfish in a bag
(New York County)
On Sept. 9, ECOs Spencer Noyes, Jason Smith, and Adam Johnson were conducting surveillance of fishermen along the East River when they noticed a man catching fish, stuffing them into a bag, and hiding the bag in nearby bushes. As darkness approached, Noyes approached the man nonchalantly and asked how the fishing was, to which the man smiled and said, “No fish.” Noyes told the man to look behind him, and to the man’s dismay, there were Johnson and Smith holding two black plastic bags. The man quickly confessed to catching two oyster toadfish, both of which were undersized. The fish were still alive and returned to the East River. The man was issued two summons returnable to New York County Court.