New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – August 21, 2020
Trapped Timber Rattlesnake Surprises Vacationers
On Aug. 2, ECO LaPoint responded to a residence in the town of Hague, Warren County, for a report of a trapped timber rattlesnake at residence where a family was vacationing. Upon arriving at the home, ECO LaPoint located the snake outside, trapped under a tote. Using snake tongs issued by DEC, along with a cloth bag and bucket lid, he safely secured the rattlesnake in the bucket and removed it from the premises. ECO LaPoint transported the rattlesnake to DEC’s Green Island maintenance facility where it was temporarily held until it could be released to a suitable location. Timber rattlesnakes are a threatened species in New York. For more information, visit DEC’s website.
Wildland Helicopter Bucket Training
On July 27, DEC’s Forest Rangers and the Army National Guard Air Assault Battalion out of the Albany Airport conducted specialized wildland firefighting training on Round Lake using two Army UH60-A Blackhawk Helicopters outfitted with 660-gallon Bambi Buckets. Forest rangers and Army National Guard crew chiefs and pilots simulated aerial firefighting tactics on the lake. Rangers communicated with the pilots from within the helicopter and from the ground, guiding them during a hover of the lake to fill buckets and drop water on a simulated fire line.
Statewide COVID-19 Response
Over the last several months, ECOs 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.
Distressed Humpback Whale Freed – (Marine District, NY Harbor)
On July 27, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) notified DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries of a distressed humpback whale in Ambrose Channel, one of the busiest waterways in New York Harbor. The distressed whale was reportedly anchored to the sea floor with its tail entangled by an unknown material, leaving it unable to breathe freely and at severe risk of being struck by ships entering and leaving the harbor. DEC Division of Law Enforcement’s Marine Unit and the Division of Marine Resources were crucial members of the rescue team that assisted the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society and Center for Coastal Studies free the distressed humpback whale from what turned out to be a commercial fishing trawl net. The rescue operation took four days as DEC and partners, that also included Monmouth University and Turtles Fly Too, supported the disentanglement team flown in from Massachusetts. A U.S. Corp of Engineers vessel used heavy equipment to secure and haul some of the material the disentanglement team cut away to relieve pressure on the whale’s tail. Finally, on Thursday, July 30, the whale was freed with minimal injury and swam away to continue its journey. Additional photos and videos available on DEC’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Injured Red-tailed Hawk Rescued – (Richmond County)
On July 29, ECOs Milliron and Anderson received a call about an injured hawk in Staten Island. Upon arrival, the ECOs were greeted at a local cemetery by the security guards who had found the bird. The ECOs determined the bird was a red-tailed hawk, one of North America’s most common hawks that has a distinct, raspy scream expected from a raptor. The security guards gave the ECOs a small dog bed to hold the hawk comfortably during their hour-long drive to the nearest open wildlife rehabilitator. The Wild Bird Fund in New York County received the distressed hawk and, after a quick initial look, believed it to be experiencing some neurological damage. The Wild Bird Fund took in the hawk for further testing and rehabilitation.