(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.)
Youth waterfowl hunt
On Nov. 9, ECOs Nicholas Nicholas, Rob McCabe and Kaitlin Grady collaborated with the DEC hunter education program to mentor young hunters during Youth Waterfowl Weekend. The ECOs were paired with a junior hunter and set up in a blind on the Carman’s River in Southaven County Park. The mentors gave hands-on instruction about waterfowl hunting, firearm safety, and decoy placement. Eleven youth hunters participated in the hunt and bagged several ducks for the day.
On Nov. 20, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Charles Eyler III responded to Sunset Hill Road and Lakeview Drive in the town of Putnam Valley for a deer with a Halloween pumpkin bucket stuck over its nose and the handle caught in its antlers. Concerned citizens and the local SPCA reported that the yearling buck had been seen with the bucket on its head for several days. When Tompkins and Eyler arrived on scene at around 2:30 p.m., they corralled the deer down a narrow path between a house and a large woodpile. Eventually the deer ran into a fence and behind the woodpile, where it was able to hit enough brush and sticks to knock the pumpkin bucket free. The deer reunited with a larger doe nearby and headed into the woods.
On Nov. 20, ECOs Zachary Crain and Deo Read responded to a report of a deer trapped in a large water well/supply tank in the town of Amenia. A hunter discovered the deer when he heard a noise coming from the tank, which is approximately 40 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 16 feet deep. Two deer jumped onto the tin roof of the water well and fell through. One died and the other survived and was running around the tank bottom. The ECOs and four other civilians assisted with the rescue. Crain and two others climbed to the bottom of the water supply tank. They cornered the surviving deer and tied it with some rope before Read and another man lifted it out of the tank vertically. They untied the deer and it ran away.
Over 100 years of experience
On Nov. 13 and 14, Captain Karen Przyklek, Lieutenant Dawn Galvin, Lieutenant Doreen Lum from the 11th Basic Academy, Captain Elizabeth Haag, Investigator Sara Komonchak from the 14th Basic, and Sergeant Kati Reynolds from the 19th Basic attended the 10th Annual Women in Law Enforcement Conference in Saratoga County. Training included segments on leadership, health, and wellness, and included several dynamic criminal justice speakers in their fields of expertise.
On Dec. 21, 2018, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Kevin Wamsley set out for a day of seafood market checks in Westchester County. With the upcoming holidays, some seafood markets increase stocks of shellfish and marine fish, and the possibility of associated health and safety violations typically increases, as well. Five separate seafood distribution facilities were checked for violations ranging from undersized fish and lobsters to proper storage and tagging of shellfish. While checking one of these locations, ECOs discovered two large bags of clams without required tags. The ECOs issued a summons for possession of untagged shellfish. Later in the day, two additional distributors were issued summonses for the possession of untagged shellfish. One charge was sent to Greenburgh Town Court and the other charges to Yonkers City Court. Because the shellfish were of unknown origin, they could not be sold for consumption, and one bushel of topneck clams, one bushel of chowder clams, one bushel of cockles, and one box of geoduck clams were seized and destroyed.
A whole lot of carp
On Dec. 29, while on patrol in Queens County, ECOs Matthew Thibodeau and Jacob Jankowski observed two men floating on a homemade wooden raft on Willow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The raft was in a spot known for illegal fishing, and Thibodeau and Jankowski observed the subjects using a combination of gill and dip nets to land multiple fish. Freshwater lakes in Region 2 (New York City) are catch and release only for any species other than snakeheads, and the use of gill nets is strictly prohibited. As the individuals walked out of the cattails with their catch, the ECOs approached. The officers found the anglers in possession of two large bags and a cooler full of common carp. Neither fisherman possessed a freshwater fishing license and all of the fish had been caught illegally. A total of 35 common carp, two white perch, and two gill nets were seized. The fishermen were issued five summonses each, including fishing without a freshwater license, failure to release fish without undue harm, fishing contrary to regulations, fishing by means other than angling, and insufficient PFDs. All of the summonses were returnable to Queens County Court.
Illegally guided duck hunt
On Dec. 29, 2018, ECO Joshua Crain received multiple complaints about an individual posting guided waterfowl hunts on social media in the Yates County area. Crain determined that this individual was not licensed to guide hunts in New York, and photos showed an over-the-limit take of waterfowl. Over the next several days, Crain compiled more evidence and attempted to locate the subject. On Jan. 1, Crain located the individual guiding a group of five hunters on Seneca Lake in the town of Torrey. Because of the size of the hunting party, ECO Ron Gross responded to the area to assist. The hunting party was approached by the ECOs and the officers conducted a compliance check. One hunter was charged with possessing a shotgun capable of holding more than three rounds while waterfowl hunting, and a second hunter was charged with hunting wildlife without a valid license and possessing a shotgun capable of holding more than three rounds while waterfowl hunting. The “guide,” a resident of Elmira, was charged with two counts of guiding hunters without a guide’s license and taking over the limit of redhead ducks. All of the tickets were returnable to Torrey Town Court.