Hunter Perishes While Dragging Buck
(St. Lawrence County)
On Nov. 2 at 8:36 p.m., a woman called Ray Brook Dispatch to report her husband overdue from hunting on the western side of Tupper Lake in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest. Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), NYSP, and volunteers were part of the search team. On Nov. 3, Rangers used Type 1 and Type 2 searches, while ECOs searched the shoreline and water, and NYSP K-9 units searched the ground. On Nov. 4, with a Ranger acting as crew chief, 178 search, fire, rescue, and police personnel continued the search, including eight NYSP drones and a NYSP helicopter. Around 12 p.m., a search crew found the hunter’s body. He had been dragging a deer he had shot while hunting. At 2:39 p.m. the subject’s body was recovered, flown out, and turned over to the coroner.
Lean-to Graffiti Arrest
On Nov. 2, DEC Central Dispatch received a call about a social media post showing graffiti on a lean-to on State lands at Hunter Mountain. Rangers Fox and Dawson began an investigation with DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI). On Nov. 4, Lt. Pachan and Ranger Dawson received information that the suspect was currently at the John Robb lean-to attempting to clean up the graffiti. Rangers Fox and Dawson responded to the scene and notified BECI investigators. Rangers learned that the subject drove up the mountain on Hunter ski resort roads and got stuck in a snowbank at the top of the Kaatskill Flyer chairlift. Ski resort staff and Ranger Dawson freed the vehicle from the snowbank, and the Officers escorted the subject down to the ski lodge where they met responding BECI investigators. The 39-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested and transported to the New York State Police barracks in Hunter. He was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for making graffiti and violations for defacing rock and natural materials on state land and defacing a DEC structure. The suspect is due back in court on Dec. 15.
Hudson River Waterfowl Patrol
On Oct. 17, ECOs Johnson and Walraven conducted boat patrol on the Hudson River during opening weekend of waterfowl season in the southeastern part of the state. While patrolling north toward Saugerties, the two ECOs observed a hunter operating an unregistered vessel and heading toward a public boat launch. The Officers approached the hunter at the boat launch and observed that he was in possession of two mallards. The hunter did not possess a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, did not have a plug in his shotgun, and the shotgun was loaded while the vessel was moving. Further investigation concluded that the hunter was intoxicated by alcohol while operating the vessel and while waterfowl hunting. The hunter was arrested for hunting while intoxicated and boating while intoxicated, along with several hunting and navigation law violations. The case is pending in Town of Saugerties Court.
The .22 Caliber Deer Case
On Oct. 29, ECO Walraven received information that a bowhunter had shot a deer with a .22 caliber rifle during the special archery season in the town of Wawarsing. The information came from another bowhunter in the area at the time who had observed the incident. ECO Walraven contacted ECO Wood, who deployed his K9 CJ to assist in locating evidence. K9 CJ, trained in burnt gun powder detection, detected gun powder on a wrist strap release dropped at the scene. ECOs Wood and Walraven searched the area and located a blind and trail camera looking over a bait pile of corn and apples. The Officers also found several spent .22 shell casings in the blind. On Oct. 31, the Officers interviewed the suspect, who admitted to shooting at the deer with his rifle and hunting from the blind. ECO Walraven issued the man several tickets for possessing a firearm afield during the special archery season, hunting deer with the aid of a pre-established bait pile, hunting deer with rimfire ammunition, and attempting to unlawfully take protected wildlife. The tickets are returnable to the Town of Wawarsing Court in November.
Enforcement During Salmon Run (Niagara County)
During the early morning hours of Oct. 30, ECOs Scheer, Powers, and Koepf conducted salmon fishing checks at Burt Dam, a popular fishing site along Eighteen Mile Creek in the town of Newfane. The Officers observed approximately 40 anglers during the patrol and issued four violations for fishing before legal hours and failing to immediately release hooked fish. In addition to addressing the violations found, the ECOs spoke with several anglers who expressed their gratitude to the ECOs for enforcing fishing laws and regulations at this popular fishing site.
Busy Day on the Water
On Oct. 24, ECOs Tompkins and Wamsley were conducting a boat patrol on the Byram River, which empties into the Long Island Sound. The ECOs observed three men carrying a bucket that appeared heavy. As the Officers approached the subjects, the men began acting erratically. The ECOs motored up to the dock and directed the men not to dump the bucket, but one of the individuals emptied the bucket into the river. ECO Tompkins quickly maneuvered the vessel to the dock, allowing ECO Wamsley to jump up to the dock, grab a net, and retrieve 16 undersized blackfish. The Officers issued a total of seven summonses to the men, all charged with possessing over-the-limit and undersized fish. The individual who dumped the bucket received an additional charge for failure to obey a lawful order. The ECOs continued their boat patrol throughout the day and issued six more tickets to multiple individuals for possessing undersized fish. All illegally possessed fish were confiscated and donated to a local zoo.
Illegal Hunting Activities
Joint Enforcement Operation: On Oct. 30, Forest Rangers Balerno and Praczkajlo, along with Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Cranker, conducted a joint enforcement operation on the Santa Clara Easement in the town of Waverly. Rangers previously located illegal deer hunting activity, including ground blinds baited with corn, apples, and mineral blocks. To avoid detection, Rangers were dropped off by ECO Cranker at approximately 5 p.m., and proceeded on foot for a mile to the baited stands. After checking the first stand, Ranger Balerno found and detained a subject and his radio, while Ranger Praczkajlo proceeded to check the second stand, which was also occupied. Both subjects were brought out to ECO Cranker who drove in to meet them. Six tickets were issued by ECO Cranker, including hunting deer over bait, establishing a salt lick, and failure to carry a hunting license.
On Nov. 5, Forest Rangers Slade, Kerr, and Stratton, along with Forestry and Operations staff, and the NYSP Aviation Unit flew new lean-to kits into the Catskill Mountains. Two lean-tos will be built at Table Mountain and Terrace Mountain in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. Bruderhof Communities are building the lean-tos. Supplies were donated by the Catskill 3500 Club.