New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – Nov. 30, 2018
(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.)
Capsized kayaker rescue
On May 25 at approximately 5:15 p.m., ECOs Kevin Riggs and Jim Cranker responded from a boat patrol on Lower Saranac Lake to Middle Saranac Lake to a report of a capsized kayaker who could not be located by his companions. The ECOs coordinated with DEC Forest Rangers, a Saranac Islands Public Campground boat and a Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department boat to search the area of the subject’s last known location. A strong storm accompanied by high winds swept the area, resulting in large waves on the lake that made for difficult search conditions. Roughly 45 minutes after the initial call, Riggs and Cranker found the missing kayaker on the back side of a nearby island, where campers had assisted the subject. The kayaker was wearing a personal flotation device when he capsized and had clung to the kayak as the wind and waves pushed him to the island. The man was uninjured and transported back to his campsite, where he was reunited with his companions on Weller Pond.
Beacon High School Career Fair
On May 25, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Deo Read attended a career fair hosted by Beacon High School, where Tompkins graduated in 2006. Recruitment is a continuous aspect of an ECO’s job duties, and the officers answered questions from interested students, teachers and civilians about the job responsibilities of an ECO. The students and teachers also asked questions about fishing, hunting and trapping regulations. The ECOs quizzed the students and teachers about the identification of pelts from various furbearers displayed on the table.
Water quality violations
On May 25, ECO Dustin Osborne received a complaint that a construction company was pumping muddy water into a freshwater stream on Staten Island. Osborne and ECO Taylor Della Rocco arrived on site to find that a plumbing company had excavated a 20-foot-deep hole in the roadway to tie into the main sewer line. During the excavation, the company hit groundwater, which it was pumping out of the excavation site and into a storm drain located directly above a freshwater stream. Osborne walked downstream approximately 1,000 feet and observed turbidity caused by the muddy water being pumped into the stream. The plumbing company did not have a permit for discharging the muddy water from this excavation, and DEC’s Division of Water was contacted to assist in delineating the numerous violations committed by the plumbing company. Ultimately, the plumbing company was charged with pollution of water in contravention of standards, discharging without a permit, pollution of waters of the marine district, pollution of waters of fisheries or shellfisheries, disposing of substance injurious to fish and wildlife into a stream, and depositing a noisome and unwholesome substance on a public highway. All charges were returnable to Richmond County Criminal court.
Assisting individuals in crisis
(Franklin and Tompkins counties)
On June 6 at 9 p.m., New York State Police in Malone requested assistance from ECO Kevin Riggs to patrol a seasonal use road in the town of Waverly. Hunting club members had encountered a male subject sitting outside a camp asking for help. The subject had been reported missing the previous day. He had left his home on an ATV and became stranded in the woods before walking to the camp. Riggs and Trooper Nathan Larock located the subject and transported him to a main road, where EMS responders transported him to a medical facility. On June 8, ECO Osman Eisenberg responded to a New York State Parks Police dispatch call concerning a possible suicidal subject at the Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca. Eisenberg and a parks officer located and interviewed the subject, who was then transported without incident to Cayuga Medical Center for evaluation.
On May 29, ECO Ian Helmer responded to the Tug Hill State Forest for a call of an injured bicyclist unable to walk out. Helmer, along with local volunteer firefighters from departments in Adams, Adams Center, Lorraine and Rodman, carried out the injured cyclist to waiting EMS personnel. The subject was then transported to the local hospital for treatment.
Senseless shooting of a bear
On June 6, Lewis County 911 received a call from a female resident in the town of Watson reporting a bear in a tree in her front yard. Lewis County contacted DEC Central Dispatch. DEC directed Lewis County to advise the caller to leave the bear alone and that it would most likely come down from the tree during the night and leave the area. The resident then contacted her boyfriend in Lowville, and advised him of the bear in the tree. The boyfriend returned home and shot the bear several times with a shotgun at about 12:15 a.m. The female resident then called Lewis County 911 and advised them that her boyfriend had killed the bear. Lewis County informed ECO Tim Worden about the incident. Worden responded to the residence and found the dead adult female bear beneath the tree. The property had several bird seed and hummingbird feeders around the house, a common attractant for bears that should have been removed to minimize interest from bears in the area. The resident was advised to remove all food sources and the boyfriend was issued a ticket for taking a bear during the closed season. The bear was seized, and the case was to be heard in Watson Town Court.
(Kings and Queens counties)
On June 10, ECOs Connor Dodge and Zach Kochanowski observed an individual with a rake and a bag of clams walking off Plumb Beach. The man stated that the clams were from the waters of Rockaway Inlet, which is an uncertified area for taking clams. The man had a total of 74 quahog clams in the bag and was issued a summons for taking shellfish from uncertified waters.
On June 11, Dodge patrolled the same area of Plumb Beach around the same time of day and observed a female subject digging for clams with a rake and shovel and placing them into a bag. When he started to approach the woman, she attempted to dump the clams, but 27 clams were recovered as evidence. Three summonses were issued for taking shellfish from uncertified waters, possession of shellfish taken from uncertified waters, and dumping shellfish upon signal to stop.
On June 12, Dodge patrolled nearby Gerritsen Creek during low tide and once again observed two individuals fishing. One individual was also observed clamming. Dodge noted the location of the men, drove to the opposite side of the creek, and hiked to the two individuals. The two men were found with two bags containing 86 quahog clams they had taken from the creek. Dodge also found a string leading into the creek. When he pulled up the string, he found a small cage tied to it containing two undersized striped bass. The men were issued seven summonses for taking shellfish from uncertified waters, possession of shellfish taken from uncertified waters, possess undersized striped bass, and no marine registration.
Finally, on June 15, ECOs Sarah Barrett, Matthew Rutherford, and Matthew Thibodeau patrolled Jamaica Bay to check for people clamming during the early-morning low tide. At approximately 4 a.m., the ECOs located two subjects in the shallows of Jamaica Bay, just south of Cross Bay Bridge. In plainclothes, Rutherford made his way to the subjects to get a closer look at what they were up to. Rutherford observed the two subjects with bins filled with blue crabs and clams as Barrett and Thibodeau watched nearby, waiting for Rutherford’s signal to make contact with the subjects. The two were found to be in possession of 140 clams and 131 blue crabs. The clams and crabs were released back into the bay and eight summonses were issued for taking shellfish from uncertified waters, taking shellfish at night, possessing undersized blue crabs, and possessing over the limit of blue crabs.
Mountain lion for sale
On June 13, ECO Ryan Grogan contacted a seller advertising a full mountain lion mount for sale on Craigslist. The seller confirmed that the cougar was authentic and the price was $3,000. After agreeing to meet the seller at the storage unit that the piece was being kept, Grogan arrived in plainclothes to contact the seller. Upon confirming that the mountain lion was legitimate, Grogan informed the seller that he was an officer with the Environmental Conservation Police and that the sale of an endangered species valued at more than $1,500 is a felony in New York. The mountain lion mount was seized and transported to the Region 2 office. The seller was issued a Notice of Violation for the offense.
Orphaned bear cub
On June 14, ECO Jon Walraven was contacted by the Warwick Police Department about a bear cub spotted near a heavily traveled road. Walraven responded and was met on scene by Warwick police officers and the New York State Police. The officers were concerned because a larger bear had been killed the previous night in a motor vehicle accident and there was no sign of the mother bear near the cub. Walraven and the officers attempted to capture the cub, but she successfully evaded their efforts and hid in a nearby wooded area. Walraven contacted senior DEC Wildlife Biologist Matt Merchant for assistance. Soon after Merchant arrived on scene, the bear cub was spotted making its way toward the road and the group was able to capture it. The cub was taken by DEC wildlife staff to a licensed rehabilitator for care and eventual release back into the wild when she is older and stronger.
Clamming not crabbing
On June 23, ECO Chris DeRose observed three males wading in the waters of the Great South Bay, north of the Ocean Parkway in the town of Babylon. The area is typically frequented by crabbers looking for blue claw crabs, but it seemed strange to DeRose that the three men were crabbing since it is early in the season. After watching them for a short time it became clear that the men were clamming, not crabbing, and the area is currently closed to taking any clams. After spotting the men pull up some clams, DeRose approached them. The trio claimed to only have one bucket of clams, but a quick check led to a cooler with 150 hard clams, of which 25 were undersized. Each member of the party was charged with placing a rake in uncertified waters, taking hard clams from uncertified waters, and possessing undersized hard clams in excess of 10 percent of their take. All of the clams were seized and the summonses were returnable to First District Court in Suffolk County.