New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – April 16, 2021
Catch Undersized Fish, Pay Sizable Fine (Westchester County)
An angler busted for taking undersized striped bass last year paid a hefty fine in Croton-on-Hudson Court. On Sept. 1, ECOs Tompkins and Crisafulli were patrolling the Hudson River when they noticed several groups fishing. Officers began checking each group for licenses and any fish caught. ECO Tompkins checked the bucket that contained many fish, including white perch. A closer look found 17 undersized striped bass in the bucket. New York state regulations restrict anglers in the Hudson River to one fish per person with a size limit of 18 to 28 inches. One of the anglers in the group took the blame for all the illegally caught fish and was issued two tickets: one for possession of undersized striped bass and another for possession of over the daily limit of striped bass. The fisherman pleaded guilty to both charges and paid a fine of $900 for the violations.
On March 1 at 3 p.m., Forest Ranger assistance was requested by DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer LaCroix and the Cumberland Head Fire Department for two anglers stranded on a floating ice sheet on Lake Champlain. Fire department personnel accessed the men from Plattsburgh with an inflatable rescue craft and brought one of the subjects safely to shore. When Forest Rangers arrived on the scene, two fire department personnel and the second angler and his gear were still on the ice sheet. ECOs and Rangers launched the airboat and Ranger Bronson was able to retrieve all parties and gear from the ice and bring them back to shore.
On March 15, Region 3 Forest Rangers assisted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with a prescribed burn at the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife refuge. The operation successfully burned 417 acres. Prescribed fire benefits include improvement of wildlife habitat by maintaining grasslands for nesting birds and improving wildlife habitat by maintaining a diverse forest environment. Additional benefits include reducing highly combustible fuel loads that could potentially feed a wildland fire, as well as the establishment and maintenance of fire breaks that improve control and access to wildland fires. Prescribed fires also represent a valuable training opportunity for local firefighters who develop skills needed to fight wildland fires. Before fires are conducted, careful consideration is given to environmental factors such as current and expected weather conditions and smoke management considerations in close coordination with the National Weather Service.
Noises in the Dark
On March 16, ECO Baker received reports from New York State Police of a dead bear in Bradford. ECO Baker responded, along with ECOs Fuerch and Dussault. The officers determined the bear had been shot in the head and interviewed the suspect. The man said he was in his house getting tools when he came out and was startled by an animal approximately 20 yards away. The man went back into the house and grabbed his spotlight and gun and then realized it was a bear. The man said he yelled and shot in the air to frighten the bear, but when it didn’t leave, he shot the bear. The suspect was charged with taking a bear out of season and multiple other violations.
Prescribed Burn: On March 22 and 23, DEC Forest Rangers, along with staff from the Albany Pine Bush and volunteer firefighters, conducted two prescribed burns at the Albany Pine Bush, encompassing a total of 28 acres. These burns were conducted in high-quality, inland pitch-pine scrub-oak barrens near the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center, an area known as Karner Barrens East. These burns are conducted to improve habitat for a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species such as the Karner Blue Butterfly, and reduce wildfire risk.
Burn Ban Keeps ECOs Busy
Throughout the month of March, ECOs across the state increased patrols for illegal open burns. Dry conditions combined with high winds can easily lead to wildfires. The statewide prohibition on the open burn of brush began on March 16 and lasts through May 14. Since the beginning of the ban, ECOs in Greene County have responded to eight open burn calls with tickets issued for burning construction and demolition (C&D) debris, violating the burn ban, and failing to remain in attendance of a campfire. Burning C&D debris and garbage is prohibited year-round. Burning can emit potentially harmful chemicals and be difficult to extinguish. Even in heavy rain, one pile cited by ECOs reignited an hour after the landowner doused it with water.
On March 25, ECO Eyler assisted DEC’s Region 3 Fisheries staff with stocking trout. Tens of thousands of fish were released into Sprout Creek, Fishkill Creek, and Wappinger Creek. A preceding day of rain certainly helped the young fish. Trout season opened April 1, and new regulations will take effect then as well.