Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Cuffs & Collars: Field reports from New York DEC officers

• On the morning of Nov. 19, opening day of the Southern Zone big game firearms season, a hunter in Wayne County took two deer within 30 minutes of each other.

The hunter’s wife posted a big congratulations to her husband on social media about the successful morning hunt, complete with a picture of the hunter holding two bucks. However, New York hunters have only one tag for antlered deer during the gun season.

ECO McCabe and Lieutenant Thomas spoke to the hunter who admitted to the crime. Officers donated meat from the second illegally taken deer to a local church. The hunter is under consideration for an administrative settlement as charges are pending.

Spotlight on Enforcement (DEC Regions 8 And 9)

• On the night of Oct. 28, ECOs organized a spotlighting enforcement detail to combat poaching activities in DEC Regions 8 and 9. During the detail in the lower Finger Lakes region and Southern Tier, Officers watched for vehicles operating spotlights for poaching. One of the more notable violations that night involved a white pickup truck repeatedly spotlighting fields in the southwest corner of Steuben County.

ECOs activated their emergency lights and attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but the subject drove away at a high rate of speed, discarding a loaded rifle and spotlight out the window of the vehicle. In their attempt to further evade the ECO, the driver pulled into a dirt path a short distance into Pennsylvania and fled on foot.

With assistance from Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Game
Wardens, and a DEC Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) K9 unit, Officers
recovered all evidence and successfully took two subjects into custody,
including a convicted felon. The subjects received tickets for multiple
Penal Law and Environmental Conservation Law misdemeanors and were
released pending a future court appearance. Over the course of the
detail, Officers issued tickets for a variety of charges ranging from
possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle to possession of an
unsecured firearm while operating a spotlight and unlawfully fleeing an

Illegal ATV Use (Franklin County)

• On Dec. 1, Ranger Praczkajlo followed ATV tracks in the town of
Franklin and determined the operators were riding the ATVs illegally on
Forest Preserve land. When the Ranger located the operators, he issued
two tickets to each, including for driving unregistered ATVs. On Dec. 2,
Ranger Praczkajlo followed other ATV tracks and found an operator from
Bloomingdale driving an unregistered ATV illegally on a public easement.
He issued two tickets. An ATV must be registered with the Department of
Motor Vehicles if it is operated anywhere in New York State, including
the owner’s property.

Back Deck Buck (Erie County)

• On Nov. 14, ECO Damrath received a complaint about a subject hunting
deer over bait. The complainant said she watched her neighbor place
pumpkins in the backyard and then shoot the attracted deer with a
crossbow from his upstairs deck while the deer fed on the pumpkins.
Officer Damrath interviewed the subject, who readily admitted to
shooting the buck over bait but claimed he was unaware that placing
pumpkins for deer to eat would be considered baiting. ECO Damrath
ticketed the hunter for illegally taking deer and discharging a crossbow within
250 feet of a structure, among other charges. The Officer donated the
deer to the Venison Donation Coalition to help feed people in Erie

No Points for Poaching (Oneida County)

• On Nov. 20, ECO Hull received an anonymous tip about a subject taking
two bucks in the first two days of the Southern Zone regular big game
season in Utica. The complainant provided pictures of a six-point buck
taken on Nov. 19, and a 10-point buck taken the next morning. With just a
first name and the pictures to start the investigation, Officer Hull
made several phone calls until he found a last name, address, and phone
number for the subject. The subject, who initially denied shooting the
10-point buck, eventually admitted to shooting it, driving it home, and hiding it in a back shed. Officer Hull seized the deer and ticketed the hunter for
illegally taking wildlife, taking over the limit of deer, and illegal
possession of wildlife. A local food pantry accepted the meat from the
deer as a donation.

K9 Sniffs Out Black Bear (Seneca County)

• On Nov. 18, while working a spotlight detail in the Montezuma National
Wildlife Refuge, ECO Godson and Federal Wildlife Officer Wolabaugh
received a report that a K9 trained in wildlife recovery had tracked a
bear shot earlier in the day.

After an investigation, the Officers
responded to a home address for the hunter and conducted an interview
during which the subject admitted to shooting the bear with a compound bow. The subject also failed to turn in a harvest report card indicating he had taken the bear.

Further inspection of the subject’s property found a spike-horn buck, which the hunter said he took in the Northern Zone during the big game season. The subject provided the Officers with a completed doe tag for the buck instead of the correct antlered deer tag required in New York.

He has pending tickets in New York for improperly tagging an antlered deer and received citations to appear in federal court for the illegal harvest of a black bear on a National Wildlife Refuge. The bear, which refuge biologists say is likely the first confirmed black bear sighting on refuge property, is being donated to
the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center.

Deer Check Point (Ontario County)

• ECOs in DEC’s Region 8, with assistance from New York State Police,
held a deer check point in Ontario County on cold blustery opening
Sunday of the Southern Zone deer season. The Officers checked nearly 30
vehicles and more than 35 deer with DEC biologists on hand to help
determine the age of the deer and record tag information. Hunters,
mostly happy to see ECOs out protecting their cherished pastime, shared
stories of their time in the woods. Officers issued one tagging
violation during the check, but most hunters went home happy to show
their trophies.

Grandpa’s Deer? (Erie County)

• On Nov. 20, while on patrol, ECO Damrath observed a pickup truck with
several deer legs sticking out of the truck bed. The driver sped away
when the two made eye contact, but Officer Damrath eventually caught up
to the truck and pulled it over. When asked about the buck and doe in
the truck, the driver said he shot the doe, his 82-year-old grandfather
had shot the buck, and he was taking both to the processor.

The hunter could not produce a consignment slip signed by his grandfather giving
him permission to transport the buck, but it appeared the grandfather
had signed his tag. The subject’s story fell apart when ECO Damrath
learned the grandfather died seven years ago and the grandson was using
his lifetime license tags. Officer Damrath charged the hunter with
several violations and seized the deer until he produced his own valid
buck tag the next day.

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