Loaded Gun on ATV Leads to Illegal Deer Harvest in New York

Joe Forma Photo

On Nov. 17, Environmental Conservation Officer Shea Mathis spotted two hunters walking along the railroad tracks in the town of Wheatfield, Niagara County, NY.

The two claimed they had a lousy morning hunting and had not taken any deer.

ECO Mathis checked their licenses and found their deer tags attached. A third member of the hunting party pulled up on an ATV with a loaded muzzle-loader over his shoulder. While issuing a ticket for possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, ECO Mathis was contacted by ECO George Scheer, who had received information that a male had shot two bucks with a muzzle loader that morning in the same area.

While ECO Mathis was issuing the ticket, one of the hunters left on the ATV and headed to a residence. ECO Scheer traveled to the location and found the subject. After a brief interview, ECO Scheer located a nine-point and 10-point buck, both untagged, in the back of a pickup truck. One of the hunters admitted to shooting both bucks that morning, just minutes apart.

Tickets were issued for possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, taking big game over the limit and failure to tag deer as required. The second buck was seized as evidence and donated.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In 2017, the 301 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.
If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

“From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York’s environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos. “They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don’t receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC’s mission to protect and enhance our environment.”