RECOVERING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION POLICE OFFICER AND PARTNER
BAG ALLEGED POACHERS IN COLUMBIA COUNTY
Limited Enforcement Force Stretched to Limits
An Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) who was gravely wounded during the 2016 hunting season is back in uniform and patrolling Columbia County, and seeking to preserve state resources from poachers. And, now paired again with his long-time patrol partner, ECO James Davey continues to make a difference.
On Saturday, December 16, Columbia County ECO Jeff Cox was off-duty, preparing for the holiday with his family in northern Columbia County when he received an anonymous tip that a poacher had illegally shot a buck after dark, on the evening of December 15.
The dedicated officer immediately returned to his home, changed into uniform, and signed on duty. He contacted Conservation Police Officer Davey to assist him.
Together, the officers went to the home of the alleged poacher and found him in the process of preparing several antlered deer for processing and display.
An interview followed, during which the subject admitting that he had shot the two largest deer the previous evening. Additionally he failed to tag a third buck he had also harvested. During the questioning, the subject implicated two other men involved in the matter, and subsequent interviews with two additional individuals of interest are pending.
Within four hours, of receiving the tip, and conducting an investigation, ECOs Cox and Davey had seized eight deer. The deer were illegally taken and in a manner no legitimate sportsman would pursue, such as:
· Stalking and shooting after dark with the aid of a light (a technique commonly referred to as jacklighting);
· Baiting animals; and
· Using heat sensing night vision eyewear.
The animals were all bucks and included one massive ten point trophy; three eight-pointers; one six- pointer; two 5-pointers; and one spike.
Following seizure, the meat was donated to the Columbia County Hunters for the Hungry Program.
Three people were cited for the various offenses and face multiple charges including at least 10 unclassified misdemeanors which carry punishments of up to one year in jail; and a fine of up to $2,000. Additional charges may be filed. The charges are pending in Chatham Town Court, an appearance is scheduled for January.
As the 2017 big game hunting season draws to a close, this case is one of more than several hundred involving the seizure of big game animals in New York, and which stems from criminal activities involving poaching and illegal conduct.
In an effort to counter this disturbing and dangerous behavior, and punish those who engage in poaching Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (Washington County) and Senator Joseph Robach (Monroe County) sponsored legislation increasing penalties upon poachers. Governor Cuomo signed the measure into law last month (Laws of 2017 - Chapter 408). The PBA of New York State commends their leadership and is thankful for the Governor’s support.
“Environmental Conservation Police Officers are outnumbered – and the absence of one officer or investigator from a force of 250 leaves huge patrol and enforcement gaps,” said PBA Vice President Jason DeAngelis, a 15-year veteran of the Environmental Conservation Police. “We simply need more officers to meet the increasing job responsibilities and the expectations of the communities we serve.”
Environmental Conservation police have statewide jurisdiction and are responsible for vast areas while on duty. On a per capital basis each officer is responsible for more than 200 square miles and duties include enforcement of New York environmental conservation laws targeting the protection of our air as well as rivers, lakes and streams that threaten our water supplies. They also play key roles in various homeland security measures such as radiation detection and maritime interdiction and other emergency response roles.
The charges in this document are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law.
Editor’s note: Environmental Conservation Police Officer James Davey suffered a devastating injury on November 29, 2016. He returned to active duty on November 27, 2017 – less than one year after the incident.