New York Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – July 1, 2022
Jamaica Bay Illegal Clamming
On May 30, ECOs Brussell, McCarthy, and Milliron were patrolling Jamaica Bay and observed numerous people on the beach taking hard clams. It is illegal to harvest shellfish in Jamaica Bay due to sanitary conditions. To protect public health and safety, ECOs are tasked with conducting regular patrols to make sure people are not harvesting shellfish from closed areas. The ECOs caught up to three different groups of people bringing clams back to their vehicles. In total, eight individuals were ticketed for taking shellfish from uncertified shellfish lands and 725 clams were seized and returned to the water.
Down a Hole
On June 3, ECOs Doroski and Walraven responded to a call for a deer caught in sinkhole in Phillipsport. The deer appeared to fall through the top of an abandoned septic tank and was unable to get free. The ECOs procured tools from the property owner and removed soil from perimeter of the tank, reducing the angle and creating a pathway to aid the deer. ECO Walraven secured a rope around the deer and the ECOs pulled the animal out onto the ground. Exhausted but otherwise unharmed, the deer ran out of sight a short time later. The property owner was advised to fill in the tank as soon as possible.
On May 26, ECOs participated in a multi-agency training exercise on the Great Sacandaga Lake in Fulton County. Training participants included more than 90 first responders staged at the Hudson River Black River Regulating District. New York State Police and law enforcement from Fulton, Saratoga, Montgomery, and Hamilton counties participated in the training, including dive teams, fire, EMS, emergency management, district attorneys, and the Fulton County Coroner. The annual training focuses on marine patrols responding to boaters in distress, which evolves into criminal investigations with missing “victims.” ECOs were tasked with initial scene response, scene security, and the transport of dive team personnel. In addition, ECOs on the Flood Incident Strike Team, trained for swift water conditions, utilized the DEC jet boat to transport fire and EMS to help retrieve a victim.
“Oh Snap!”-Ping Turtle
On May 29, while assisting DEC’s Bureau of Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health and their aquatic invasive species boat stewards during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, ECOs Lovgren and Schuck encountered New York State’s official state reptile, the snapping turtle. The turtle was attempting to cross a busy highway in the town of Tuxedo, Orange County. The ECOs successfully facilitated the turtle’s crossing and returned it to the nearby Ramapo River. The snapping turtle is an omnivore and eats carrion. It often buries itself in the mud with only its nostrils and eyes showing, waiting for unsuspecting prey. Snapping turtles may seem aggressive, but often avoid confrontation and demonstrate defensive behavior, snapping at anything they find threatening. Their snap is so powerful it can easily shear fingers, so observers are urged to maintain a safe distance. Snappers spend most of their lives in the water, where they generally swim away from people when encountered. Snapping turtles live 30 to 40 years on average, and are among the largest turtles in North America.
Kitten Cup Caper
On May 31, after responding to a call at the end of a late-night shift, ECO Dougherty observed an object in the middle of the road in the town of Ellery. Upon closer inspection, ECO Dougherty realized the object was a small animal with its head stuck inside a plastic fast food drink cup. Preparing for all possibilities, ECO Dougherty carefully approached the cup and discovered the kitten. The tiny animal was unable to lift its head off the ground nor pull its head out of the lid. The Officer quickly moved the kitten and cup out of harm’s and away from oncoming traffic. ECO Dougherty removed the cup, but needed to cut the lid from the kitten’s head. This ordeal could easily have been deadly for the kitten, but easily prevented if the responsible party had properly disposed of the cup. The kitten was later adopted.
High Schoolers Learn to ‘Leave it There’ (Oneida County)
On June 1, ECO Noyes responded to a call of an abandoned fawn in a courtyard area of Adirondack High School, in Boonville. The fawn curled up in an exterior corner of the school was in healthy condition. With assistance from students in the school’s agriculture class, ECO Noyes successfully relocated the fawn to a wooded area nearby, where the animal’s mother had been spotted earlier. It was also a good teaching moment for the students to observe how to safely leave wildlife where it is found, even if it looks “abandoned or injured.” For more information about caring for young wildlife and “If you care, leave them there,” go todec.ny.gov/animals/6956.html.
On June 3, ECO Howe responded to the town of Floyd in Oneida County to assist a man who reported he had accidentally mowed over a nest of baby rabbits three days prior. With advice from a wildlife rehabilitator, the man placed grass over the nest to help determine whether the mother would return. It was determined the mother was not returning to the nest and the rabbits had a better chance of survival if taken to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. ECO Howe carefully captured the five baby rabbits and transported them to the rehabilitator where they will be cared for until they can be released back into the wild. Video of the baby rabbits is available here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/fs/programs/press/TempTransfer/
Law Enforcement Day
On June 3, ECOs Fadden and LaCroix with K9 Web attended Law Enforcement Day at Rouses Point Elementary School. ECO Fadden spoke with students about the role of an ECO. ECO LaCroix spoke with the nearly 270 students in attendance about being a K9 Officer and introduced participants to K9 Web. Also participating in the career day was the New York State Police (NYSP) Underwater Recovery Team, NYSP Bomb Disposal Unit, NYSP K9, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection.
On May 25 and 26, ECOs Mead and Powers attended the “Outdoor Days” Field Trip for fourth and fifth grade students at Allegany State Park in Cattaraugus County. The event was held by Allegany State Park educators to provide students from four nearby schools with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of outdoor stations focused on learning about the environment.
Honoring Herbert Lepke:
On May 27, Forest Rangers paid their final respects to Herbert Paul Lepke Jr. Lepke served as a Forest Ranger in Sullivan County for 34 years before retiring in 1992. He also served in the U.S. Army and was a volunteer firefighter with the Neversink Fire Department. He is remembered as a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many. He passed away in a Florida hospital on May 15 at the age of 87.
Remembering ECO Robert R. McNamara (Cattaraugus County)
On May 29, ECO Holzle stood guard while friends and family paid their final respects to Environmental Conservation Police Officer Robert McNamara, a 30-year veteran Officer well respected by his peers. McNamara became an ECO in 1957, and spent most, if not all, of his career in Cattaraugus County. He attended academy training in 1973, and retired in November 1991, making him one of the Division of Law Enforcement’s “top 10 most senior” retirees.