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Beauty in Belmont by, Delleny Molisani

NYS Environmental Conservation Police on Patrol


Officers detail fishing violations, illegal dumping busts, a 14 foot python, and more

From the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation:

Undersized Scallops in Peconic Bay – Suffolk County

On Jan. 31, while on boat patrol in Peconic Bay completing U.S. Food and Drug Administration shellfish checks, ECOs McGhee, Zullo, Della Rocco, and Cacciola observed a boat with scallop dredges on board. The Officers caught up to the vessel and two ECOs boarded the boat. The operator claimed to be a commercial fisherman catching scallops, but a full compliance check determined the commercial harvester had multiple violations. ECOs ticketed the subject for untagged shellfish, lack of a marine sanitation device on board, failure to maintain complete and accurate records, and possession of undersized scallops (40 percent of his catch). Officers seized the undersized scallops and returned them to the water.

ECOs McGhee and Zullo address fishing violations in Peconic Bay

Measuring undersized scallop

Along the Milky Way – Orange County

In early February, ECOs in Orange County received a call from the New York State Thruway Authority reporting a tandem trailer carrying milk burst into flames on the side of the highway. Officers responded to the area due to concerns the milk released from the trailer could impact the nearby Ramapo River, a source of public drinking water. The driver was not injured and the milk did not reach the river. Dairy products like milk can break down in the water and result in a reaction that removes much-needed oxygen, potentially killing fish and other aquatic species. It is believed the fire started from a brake overheating in one of the trailers. ECOs worked with New York State Police and the Thruway Authority to ensure no environmental damage to the surrounding area resulted from the fire.

ECOs, New York State Police, and Thruway Authority employees assess damage from a milk truck fire on the Thruway in Orange County

Medical Emergency – Orange County

While returning from a training exercise on Feb. 10, ECO Parker received reports from several motorists about an erratic driver on Route 17K in the town of Montgomery. Officer Parker located the vehicle stopped in a traffic lane and obstructing traffic flow. The ECO approached the driver’s side and discovered the operator unconscious behind the wheel. ECO Parker managed to wake the driver and help him park his vehicle on the shoulder of the road. The Officer interviewed the operator and discovered he was suffering from a diabetic emergency. He then contacted Orange County 911 and requested EMS and a second police unit for additional medical assistance. Officer Parker also phoned the driver’s wife to help locate her husband’s glucose tablets. The Town of Montgomery Ambulance and Police arrived a short time later and rendered further aid.

What a Discovery – Suffolk County

On Feb. 14, ECOs Kaufherr and Zullo received a report of a large snake, approximately 12 feet in length, on the side of the road in the town of Medford. The Officers arrived and observed the reptile curled up in a ball. A closer look revealed it to be deceased. The ECOs removed the snake from the roadway to appropriately dispose of it. The reticulated python measured 14 feet in length. It is illegal to keep these types of snakes as pets in New York and they may only be possessed by holders of a Dangerous Animal License. An investigation into the owner of the snake is ongoing.

ECO Kaufherr with deceased 14-foot reticulated python

K9 CJ Does it Again – Sullivan County

On Feb. 14, ECOs Wood and Doroski responded to a complaint in Cochecton where a resident reported people discharging firearms within 500 feet of her residence without her consent. With the homeowner’s approval, Officer Wood searched the property and deployed K9 CJ to detect burned gun powder. The trained dog located a spent 12-gauge shell casing within 500 feet of the caller’s residence. The Officers later identified the suspects and took enforcement action. K9 CJ was then rewarded for another successful day on the job.

Shell casing discovered during investigation in Sullivan County

K9 CJ discovers shell casing during firearms investigation

Can’t Dump That Here – Ulster County

On Feb. 20, ECO Walraven ticketed contractors in Ulster County for unlawfully disposing solid waste in the town of Saugerties in January. ECOs began investigating the site after receiving several phone calls from the public reporting a large amount of trash dumped on a property near Hommelville and Mt. Airy roads. During the investigation, Officer Walraven discovered several pieces of mail with the address of a local resident. The ECO interviewed the resident and learned the home was recently taken over by a bank through an eviction process and contractors visited the site to clean it out. Working with the bank and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division, ECO Walraven identified the contractors involved and issued them a ticket for the unlawful disposal of solid waste, which carries fines of $1,500 to $15,000 per day. ECO Walraven directed the contractors to clean up the trash immediately and dispose of it at a permitted solid waste management facility. The case is scheduled to be arraigned in the Town of Saugerties Court in the coming weeks.

Solid waste unlawfully disposed in Saugerties

Catch of the Day on the Hudson River – Saratoga County

On Feb. 21, ECO Klein continued his investigation into people keeping fish in an area of the Hudson River designated for catch and release. That section of the river received that designation due to historic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination in the area, making the fish unsafe for consumption. Officer Klein made his way onto the ice and noticed two people fishing. The ECO approached the anglers, asked to see what they had in their buckets, and discovered a total of 131 panfish. The ECOs ticketed the anglers for keeping fish in the catch-and-release section of the Hudson River, returned the living fish to the water, and seized the rest as evidence.

Seized panfish

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