New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – February 5, 2021
Operation Back Road
• DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement released the results of “Operation Back Road,” a recent statewide detail targeting illegal hunting from roads. During the 2020 hunting season, ECOs used technology, local intelligence, and 147 robotic decoy deer over the course of 300 hours to catch poachers hunting from vehicles or along roadways, putting communities in danger. During the detail, ECOs apprehended 19 suspects for shooting at the decoys from roadways and issued tickets for 37 misdemeanors, 29 additional violations of the Environmental Conservation Law, and seven charges outside the ECL. Officers conducted the Operation Back Road detail during the last two weeks of the Northern Zone and last three weeks of the Southern Zone hunting seasons. During the 2020 fall hunting season, ECOs statewide issued more than 244 tickets for road hunting-related offenses.
On Jan. 10, ECOs Bobseine and Doroski assisted the Riverhead Foundation with locating a dolphin in Bellport Bay. The dolphin had been living in the bay for nearly one year. Since 2020, the foundation has periodically checked on the animal due to reported sightings. On this sunny winter afternoon, the dolphin surfaced as the two ECOs made it under Smith’s Point Bridge in their safeboat. A biologist for the Riverhead Foundation, also onboard the vessel, quickly identified the dolphin and determined it was healthy before it swam away.
COVID-19 Vaccination Response (Statewide)
New York State has begun the process of opening up COVID-19 vaccination centers over many parts of the state. ECOs, Forest Rangers, and other DEC experts are on the front lines assisting federal, state, local and non-government entities build and support vaccination sites at multiple locations, filling various key positions in the incident command structure up to the highest level of incident commander and working closely with other DEC staff and partners in this important mission.
Illegal Sale of Bear Bile Products
(NYC – Chinatown)
Some New York City stores recently paid penalties for illegally selling bear bile products. In 2019, Region 2 Investigator Harvey received intel from global wildlife organization “World Animal Protection,” alleging these products were being offered for sale in stores throughout the city. Preliminary inspections of the locations confirmed these findings, and ECOs executed a sting on Sept. 2, 2020. With the assistance of ECOs Shea, McCarthy, and Parmelee, the team seized thousands of dollars in bear bile products from three locations. DEC entered into consent orders with each store that included $5,000-$4,500 in suspended penalties; illegal items were forfeited to DEC. Bear bile has historically been valued in some cultures as a traditional medicine and continues to be commercialized worldwide.
Illegal Commercialization of Leopard Hide
On Oct. 9, 2020, a Beacon woman paid a penalty for trying to sell a leopard hide online. On Aug. 19, 2020, Investigator Sulkey responded to an ad for the sale of a leopard hide listed at $1,400. On Aug. 25, 2020, Investigator Sulkey posed as a potential buyer and met with the seller of the hide, Kimberly Sauer. Sauer offered the hide for sale and stated that it was authentic leopard. ECO Wamsley, waiting nearby, responded to assist with the seizure. Sauer entered into an order on consent with DEC for the illegal commercialization of this listed endangered species. In addition to paying a $500 penalty, she forfeited the leopard hide.
Hunter Perishes in the Adirondacks
On Dec. 4 at 9 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a member of a hunting camp in the Sander Road area advising that a 45-year-old hunter from Scotia was overdue from an afternoon hunt. Forest Rangers Kerr and Miller responded to investigate and search the area. The Rangers searched throughout the night and located tracks and personal items left by the hunter but could not locate the subject. On Dec. 5 at first light, four additional Rangers arrived on scene and conducted searches of the thick, swampy forest. At 3:03 p.m., Forest Rangers located and recovered the hunter’s body from the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. The New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the cause of death with support from DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation and the Fulton County Coroner’s Office.