New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – August 7, 2020
Over the last several months, Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 response and continue to support the mission assisting federal, state, and local agencies. During the state’s response to the virus, officers have filled important roles in the Incident Command System (ICS) at State COVID-19 testing sites. Across the state, ECOs also continue their core functions and have seen an increased trend of recreational participation in hunting, fishing, and boating. The public is encouraged to get outside responsibly and practice social distancing while recreating. To report environmental emergencies, violations of law, or to speak to an Environmental Conservation Officer, call 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
On July 17, ECO Don Damrath received and responded to a complaint at an auto repair facility in Syracuse concerning petroleum products possibly entering a storm-water drain on the property. Officer Damrath discovered leaking 55-gallon drums and other signs to suggest that the products were making it to the drain, even with heavy rains washing away some of the evidence. The owner of the property was instructed to clean up the mess, properly store used oil, and remove waste tires also on-site. ECOs charged the owner with depositing noxious, offensive, or poisonous substances into public waters via the storm drain under Environmental Conservation Law.
On July 16, ECO Brett Armstrong responded to a Facebook Messenger complaint in the town of Plymouth regarding a tortoise that had been walking around in the complainant’s front yard for a few days. ECO Armstrong located the tortoise and identified it as a 50-pound Sulcata (African Spurred) tortoise. The officer captured the tortoise and transported it to Country Care Veterinary Services in Afton for a health evaluation. The tortoise will be turned over to Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville. No information was available on how or where the tortoise originated.
(Oswego and Warren counties)
On July 16, American Canoe Association (ACA) whitewater kayak instructors Art Perryman, Bruce Lomnitzer, and Jason Scott hosted an ACA kayaking workshop for Zone D Forest Rangers on the Hudson River. On July 17, ACA canoe instructors Bruce Lomnitzer and Jason Scott hosted a similar workshop for Forest Rangers who patrol and check guides’ licenses on the Salmon River in Region 7. The instructors taught swift-water paddling skills and rescue techniques with the use of inflatable kayaks.
Stomping Out Illegal Commercialization of Wildlife
On May 25, ECOs Murel Lovgren and Brendan Parmelee and Investigator Joshua Harvey conducted a buy for an illegal commercialization case in Queens involving two stools made of elephant feet. The stools, made from genuine elephant parts prohibited for sale in New York, were listed for sale online for $1,800, resulting in a Class E felony under the State Environmental Conservation Law. The items were forfeited as a result of the undercover investigation and will be used for educational purposes.
Not a Fluke
While on patrol on July 6, ECOs Colton Garrand and Darren Milliron responded to a complaint about two people keeping a garbage bag full of summer flounder (fluke) on the North Channel Bridge of Jamaica Bay in Queens County. The ECOs discovered hidden garbage bags containing 16 fluke near the suspected poachers. The fish ranged from 10-12 inches, much smaller than the legal size of 19 inches. ECOs issued five tickets to the two individuals for violations including possession of under-sized fluke, over the limit, and failure to release without undo harm.
Eagle Takes to the Skies
On July 19, a bald eagle was released in Schoharie County after months of rehabilitation. A retired New York State Police Investigator first found the eagle suffering from a broken wing and lead poisoning after being shot by an unknown perpetrator in Schoharie several months ago. The eagle was transported to Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center where the bird began its four-month recovery under the care of wildlife rehabilitator Missy Runyan. ECO Melissa Burgess was on hand when they released the eagle near the location it was discovered. Runyan and the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society helped secure funds for a GPS tracking monitor for the bird, making it the first eagle to participate in the rehabilitation center’s new study tracking the movements and recovery success of lead-poisoned birds. Researchers are looking to broaden the research pool and fit more birds with GPS monitors. DEC’s investigation into who shot the eagle is ongoing.
Fishing Tourney Injury
On June 20, the opening day of the regular bass season in New York, while patrolling the White Lake area in the town of Bethel, ECO Mary Grose observed a bass fishing tournament underway with a top prize of $1,500. ECO Grose observed a man who appeared to have an injury exiting the boat ramp. The ECO responded and evaluated the fisherman who had a fishing lure stuck in his left leg. The officer then called EMS to help address the injury and help the angler get back out on the water to continue fishing. There is no word on how well the angler did in the tournament.