On April 24, while on evening patrol, ECO Grady received a tip about a subject fishing at the end of the new jetty at Cedar Beach by the inlet to Mount Sinai Harbor. The complainant said the angler was catching and keeping small striped bass in a blue cooler stashed in some rocks. The complainant had already informed the fisherman that the fish he caught were unlawful to keep, but the angler ignored the warning. ECO Grady arrived at the location just as the subject was loading his fishing gear into the trunk of his car. ECO Grady could see a fish tail sticking out of the cooler and proceeded to inspect its contents. The ECO found two small striped bass outside the legal slot size limits and ticketed the angler for possession of over-limit and undersized fish. The officer then returned the striped bass to the water.
Illegal Netting of Herring
On April 16, ECO Johnson conducted a nighttime patrol of Black Creek in the town of Esopus in response to several complaints about people using nets to catch river herring, which is illegal in any embayment or tributary. During his patrol, ECO Johnson observed two individuals by the side of the creek with seven herring in a bag and no fishing poles. After questioning the pair and finding their net, ECO Johnson issued the individuals several summonses for taking herring with a net in a tributary and failing to carry a fishing license. While leaving the area, ECO Johnson noticed another car pull up to the creek and two additional subjects netting for herring. The anglers had just started and hadn’t caught any fish, but were also issued summonses for attempting to take herring with a net. The violations carry a fine of up to $250 per fish and forfeiture of all nets upon conviction.
No Home for Construction Debris
On March 6, the Central Pine Barrens Commission reached out to DEC after capturing photos of a truck dumping construction debris on New York State Pine Barrens property in Rocky Point. DEC’s investigation determined a local resident was responsible for the dumping. On April 9, ECO Kaufherr issued a Notice of Violation to the responsible party, and on April 21, the subject met with Acting Captain Gadomski to sign an Order on Consent and pay a $2,000 fine. Illegal dumping is an ongoing issue around the Pine Barrens and the Pine Barrens Commission and DEC continue to investigate and track down those responsible in order to prevent future dumping.
ECO Amato Receives Pine Barrens Commission Award
Each year, PBLEC awards officers from partner agencies for their outstanding efforts protecting the critical habitat of the Long Island Pine Barrens. On April 8 at Southaven County Park, the Law Enforcement Council recognized ECO Chris Amato as 2020’s “ECO of the Year” for his commitment to protecting the state’s natural resources. ECO Amato’s patrol area encompasses much of the Pine Barrens corridor on Long Island and he has been integral in helping to prevent illegal dumping in the area.
Law Enforcement Action
On April 16 at 12 p.m., Forest Ranger Booth overheard New York State Police emergency radio traffic advising of a domestic situation involving a loaded firearm. Ranger Booth responded to the location, and once on scene, quickly sized up the situation. From a position of cover, the Ranger encouraged the male subject, who had access to a loaded firearm, to calmly come outside. After complying with Ranger Booth’s request, the unarmed subject was taken into custody and turned over to the State Police.
On April 24, Region 7 forest rangers received a complaint about a large party in the Happy Valley WMA. Forest Ranger Chappell responded and documented a large amount of trash and an unattended bonfire. The following day, rangers received a complaint about another overnight party at the same location. Ranger Chappell responded and found an individual still present at the site, along with several cars partially blocking the roadway. The individual was instructed to clean up the trash and the vehicles on the road were towed at the owners’ expense. DEC’s investigation is ongoing.
The Over-Friendly Turkey
On April 14, ECO Koepf received a call from State Trooper Montante about a turkey in a rest stop parking lot off the Thruway in Angola. The turkey was reportedly extremely friendly, allowing people to pet it, and refused to leave the area. ECOs Koepf and Machnica responded to the location and observed the full-grown turkey hanging out near the trooper’s car. The officers caught the turkey without incident, placed it in a container for transport, and drove the bird to a more rural area where it was released, unharmed.
On May 2, ECO Gross received a complaint from a man who witnessed the illegal harvest of two turkeys on private land in the town of Caton. At approximately 8:45 a.m., the witness observed a black pickup truck stop on the roadway and one hunter run out into the field, grab two turkeys, and run back to the truck. The witness obtained license plate information from the truck. ECO Gross responded to the scene and recovered blood, feathers, and two 12-gauge shell casings of different makes from the roadway. After collecting the evidence, ECO Gross ran the plate and obtained the vehicle owner’s information. ECO Gross and Lt. Lochner interviewed the two hunters and obtained the name of a third subject who drove the truck. The officers determined that one of the hunters did not have a turkey permit at the time of the incident and had purchased it after ECO Gross contacted them. ECO Gross issued four misdemeanors and nine violations to the three men. Charges included: possessing loaded guns in motor vehicles; discharging firearms from a public roadway; taking wildlife from a public roadway; killing turkeys except as permitted; hunting turkey without a permit; failure to immediately tag turkey; and hunting turkey with other than legal size shot. The turkey meat was donated to a local family.
Aerial Wildfire Suppression Training
On May 3, 6, and 7, forest rangers in the Division of Forest Protection’s Aviation Program conducted a joint aerial wildfire suppression training exercise with air crews from the New York Army National Guard based at the Army’s Albany International Airport flight facility and the Connecticut Army National Guard. During the multi-day training, Rangers presented classroom and field training to the soldiers in New York State Forest Ranger aviation operations, wildfire suppression, and aviation wildfire suppression tactics. Forest rangers received training in Army Aviation protocols, and UH-60 Black Hawk operations. Rangers and guard crews worked together on aerial water delivery both from the ground and the air, delivering more than 120 buckets of water in two days of training, with each bucket containing 660 gallons. Forest rangers and Army National Guard Aviation Units work together to suppress large wildfires in New York. Training together allows them to develop and maintain inter-agency safety standards and crew cohesion. This leads to a safer, more effective, and efficient partnership to protect lives and property when large wildland fires threaten New York State.
K9 Cramer Finds Illegal Catches
On April 8, seven days before the opening of striped bass season, ECOs Pabes and Macropoulos conducted surveillance at a popular fishing spot where the officers watched a group of anglers catch at least two bass without releasing the fish. The ECOs observed the fishermen walk out of sight with their catch and return without the fish. The ECOs, including K9 Cramer, approached the fishing party who claimed they had not caught anything. K9 Cramer quickly alerted the Officers to an area where the anglers had stashed a total of 11 out-of-season striped bass, most of which would have been undersized if the season were open. Officers issued tickets to four fishermen for possession of striped bass out of season, returnable to the First District Court of Nassau County.
Catching the Run
ECOs Simmons and Della Rocco worked a late shift on April 24 in hopes of protecting the striped bass migrating through Long Island waters. What started as a slow night picked up quickly when rumors spread among anglers that there were fish to be caught on the North Shore near Stony Brook. Using night vision, ECO Simmons focused in on a group of anglers. After a while, the group started pulling striped bass up on the beach. In a matter of minutes, two anglers had caught and kept five undersized striped bass. ECO Simmons and Della Rocco confronted the subjects, found the fish, and issued four tickets for possession of undersized striped bass over the possession limit.
Revoked and Still Hunting
In April, a Wayne County man paid a fine for a hunting-related incident that happened last year. On Dec. 6, 2020, ECO Thomas received a call about a suspect in possession of a deer. Officers were aware that the subject’s hunting licenses had been revoked for deer jacking and trespass. ECO Thomas was an hour away at the time of the call, so he asked deputies from the Wayne County Sheriff’s office to locate the suspect. When they arrived, the Deputies found the man in his garage cutting up a deer. ECO Thomas arrived and interviewed the subject, who admitted to shooting the deer earlier that day with a rifle. ECO Thomas noticed other deer parts throughout the garage and the man confessed to shooting three does during the gun season and one small buck with his bow during bow season. ECO Thomas confiscated the deer parts and antlers and charged the suspect with five counts of illegal take of wildlife, five counts of hunting while revoked, and five counts of possession of an untagged deer. The subject settled the case administratively for $1,250 and faces a possible five-year suspension of his hunting license.