New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – May 1, 2020
(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.)
DEC personnel from across agency divisions and the state are supporting the State’s response to COVID-19. Personnel from more than 20 New York State agencies are working on response efforts to stop the spread of this virus. ECOs have been responding to the pandemic at various test centers throughout the state. ECOs have been mobilized for a variety of roles such as Incident Command System (ICS) functions, technical services like fit testing, and site security.
Illegal Exotic Snake Breeding Den Identified
On Feb. 20, a Newburgh man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor commercialization charges and agreed to pay a $500 fine related to the possession of more than 150 venomous snakes seized from his home. On Jun. 2, 2019, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital contacted Central Dispatch reporting a subject bitten by a venomous snake. The subject received several doses of anti-venom. Darren Paolini explained he was bit by a Taiwanese Pit Viper (Ovophis Makazayazaya) at his residence where he was attempting to breed the snakes. He was bitten on the left hand and transported himself to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital for treatment and then transferred to Jacobi Medical in the Bronx. At Jacoby Medical, Paolini made a voluntary statement to ECO Ryan Kelly that he gets the snakes from importers, breeds them, and then trades the baby snakes for new snakes. Paolini stated that he had approximately 50 pit vipers and two coral snakes at his residence. On Jun. 3, 2019, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI) Investigator Jeff Conway obtained a search warrant for Paolini’s residence. The warrant was executed the following day with support from staff from the Bronx Zoo, who assisted with handling, transporting, and housing the snakes. In total, investigators seized 157 live venomous snakes and 31 dead venomous snakes, representing 29 distinct species. Several years of breeding records were also seized.
While on patrol in Putnam Valley on April 9, ECO Daniel Franz encountered a large tree blocking the roadway. ECO Franz conducted traffic control and with the help of a passerby, cleared the roadway.
Javits Convention Center COVID-19 Detail
(New York County)
On April 10, ECOs from Region 2 were tasked to provide 24 hours security for the NYS Javits Convention Center. The center has been converted to a treatment center for COVID-19 patients with the capacity of 1000 beds and is staffed by military doctors and nurses. ECOs have been involved throughout the COVID-19 crisis, often assisting with security.
Honoring Medical Staff
On April 10, ECO Heather Carl joined a long line of first responders at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Monticello, Sullivan County, for the Parade of Heroes. Emergency personnel from across the county arrived in fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars to honor healthcare workers on the frontlines battling COVID-19. ECO Carl joined emergency crews with lights and sirens as they drove up and around the facility.
Zimmer Fish & Game Conservation Club (Richmond County)
On Feb. 29, ECOs Shane Currey and Darren Milliron met with 30 Staten Island youth and their parents at the Andrew E. Zimmer Fish & Game Conservation Association. The ECOs led the session for the young audience by asking questions about how to protect the environment and why it so important. The children were eager to raise their hands and share their opinions. ECO Currey also brought in items from his own personal collection for wildlife identification. The youngsters were quickly able to point out the antlers of deer and the parts of wild turkeys, which are both well-established wildlife in Richmond County. The two officers answered a wide range of questions from the children concerning native wildlife. Parents had their fair share of questions, too. Overall, both officers proved to be popular speakers at the Zimmer Club and look forward to returning.
Region 3 DLE Members Practice Social Distancing during Trout Socking of Walton Lake
On April 9, ECOs assisted DEC fisheries staff with the annual fish stocking of Walton Lake in the town of Monroe. During the event, which more than 25 people attended, officers were on scene to support “New York State on PAUSE” social distancing directives. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus assisted in efforts to stock more than 3,000 trout. DEC fisheries staff used boats to disperse the fish throughout Walton Lake, ensuring a more enjoyable experience for anglers and a fair chase for the fish. DEC has not been able to utilize volunteers .
Cub Scout Outreach
On March 1, ECOs Craig Tompkins and Kevin Wamsley met with Cub Scout Pack 36, Montrose, Den 4. The seven Cub Scouts and their den leader were quizzed on common New York animal pelts, animal habitats, and animals they commonly see in the area. A great time was had by all as the ECOs also discussed their duties and how these officers help to conserve the state’s natural resources for future generations to enjoy.
On March 4, ECO John Helmeyer received a call regarding an injured bald eagle on private property in the town of LaGrange. ECO Helmeyer captured the eagle by a small stream with help from the caller and turned the bird over to a representative from Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center for rehabilitation.