Poached bass

Nine bass that were illegally kept by poachers on Lake Champlain earlier this month.

I ate pickerel once. It was boney, and not good. I've never eaten northern pike, but since they are so similar to pickerel, I can't imagine it is much better.

Bass can be passable, depending on how it's cooked. Smallmouth seemed better than largemouth from my experience.

I had that lone pickerel meal in my mind yesterday I read a recent law enforcement report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that included news of some recent poaching arrests of four men on Lake Champlain who broke a number of Conservation Laws when a DEC officer caught up to them May 4.

That was the opening of pickerel/pike/walleye season in New York, and ECO Max Nicols found the group had 23 pickerel and one pike in a vehicle near the lake in Ticonderoga. That is a few too many when the limit is 5 per person.

Their troubles worsened when they were found to have 9 bass as well, which is a no-no when bass can't be kept in New York until the third Saturday in June. Catch-and-release fishing for bass is allowed, but it's tough to argue they were going to be released when they were in garbage bags in a vehicle.

They got some tickets for their troubles. And hopefully they have a better recipe for baked pickerel than my dad did.

Below is some other interesting cases from the DEC's Conservation Officer report.

-- Don Lehman

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Speed Pollutes - Broome County

On May 1, Lt. Kenric Warner responded to a truck rollover on State Route 17 in the town of Windsor. A tractor trailer hauling residential household waste to the Seneca Meadows Landfill overturned on a bridge over Tuscarora Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River. Waste spilled over the bridge into the stream, onto the highway, and along the side of the highway. New York State Police (NYSP) found vehicle and traffic law violations and ticketed the driver for speeding and an unsafe lane change. ECO Eric Templeton followed up on the case and charged the driver with a misdemeanor, contravention of water quality standards based on negligent actions that resulted in the trash ending up in the stream. The case will be heard in Town of Windsor Court, and the ECL charge can result in fines ranging from $3,750 to $37,500 and/or up to one year in jail. John Okesson with DEC Spill Response was on scene to monitor the cleanup by National Response Corp. (NRC) out of Syracuse as NRC cleaned up the affected stream and banks. The New York State Department of Transportation helped remove the waste from the roadway.

Two Turkeys, Two States, Lots of Tickets – Rennselaer County

On May 3, ECO Brian Canzeri received a call about individuals hunting turkeys from the roads in the town of Petersburg along the Vermont border. ECO Canzeri located the suspects’ vehicle and followed it. ECO Canzeri stopped the vehicle and later determined that the father-and-son duo had shot a turkey from a road earlier in the day, trespassed on posted property to retrieve it, failed to tag it with New York tags, drove to Vermont to tag it with a Vermont tag, and came back into New York to continue hunting from roads. A second illegally possessed turkey was also found in the bed of the suspects’ pick-up truck. Vermont Game Wardens were notified, and officers met Canzeri and the subjects at the location to continue the investigation. The father and son were charged with more than a dozen violations of both New York and Vermont laws, and ECO Canzeri seized the birds and shotgun as evidence

Illegal Commercialization of Wildlife – Dutchess County

On May 3, ECO Zachary Crain received a tip about a mountain lion taxidermy mount offered for sale on Craigslist in Wappingers Falls. A fellow ECO mentioned he had seen the mount in the storefront window of a business there, so ECO Crain visited the business and explained it is illegal to sell parts of certain wildlife in New York. The uncooperative employee insisted it wasn’t being offered for sale and any further questions would be answered by his brother, the owner of the store. Within minutes, ECO Crain noticed that the online posting had been deleted. ECO Crain contacted the owner, who is now facing charges of offering for sale any part of certain wild animals and illegal commercialization of wildlife. The owner was instructed not to sell or otherwise dispose of the mount while DEC’s enforcement case is ongoing.

All Tangled Up – Chenango County

On May 3, ECO Mary Grose responded to a call of a young red fox tangled in a soccer net at a daycare center in the town of Greene. ECO Grose, assisted by a New York State Trooper, untangled the young fox and, as it was otherwise uninjured and appeared healthy, released the kit into the nearby woods. The children at the daycare were excited about the opportunity to observe the young fox, witness the rescue, and listen to guidance provided by ECO Grose regarding safety around wild animals.

Wrong Time to Take a Shot - Allegany County

On the morning of May 3, a New York State Trooper was travelling behind a pickup truck in the town of Grove when the truck suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. Much to the Trooper’s disbelief, the operator of the truck pointed a gun out the window and fired two rounds at a turkey approximately 10 yards off the road. Both shots missed and the turkey flew away unharmed. The Trooper pulled the truck over. ECO RJ Ward responded to assist. After interviewing the shooter, ECO Ward charged the subject with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a public highway, illegally attempting to kill a turkey, attempting to take wildlife from a public highway, and attempting to take wildlife from a motor vehicle.

 Illegal Turkey Take - Delaware County

On May 4, ECO Nathan Doig responded to a call about an individual who had shot a turkey close to a residence and from the roadway in the town of Davenport. The complainant had been able to take a photograph of the vehicle and its license plate. ECOs Tim Card and Vern Bauer and K-9 Woods responded to assist in gathering evidence and investigating the case. A witness stated they heard four shots. Once K-9 Woods retrieved four shotgun shells, the ECOs determined the shots were taken between 90 and 300 feet from the complainant’s residence. ECO Card assisted in locating the individual and the subject was in possession of a turkey that had his girlfriend’s tag on it. Tickets were issued to both individuals, including trespassing, illegal taking of a turkey, shooting from a public highway, shooting within 500 feet of a dwelling, and lending and using the tags of another. The turkey was seized as evidence and the charges are returnable to Davenport Town Court.

Out-of-Season Bass – Essex County

On the evening of May 4, ECO Maxwell Nicols received a call from a concerned sportsman who witnessed subjects catching fish on the shore of Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, gutting them on shore, and loading the fish into a nearby vehicle. When he arrived, ECO Nicols saw the four male subjects loading fishing gear into their SUV and preparing to leave. ECO Nicols approached and spotted multiple garbage bags in the vehicle that contained a total of 23 chain pickerel, nine black bass, and one northern pike. All four men were issued tickets for taking black bass out of season, returnable to Ticonderoga Town Court.

More Out-of-Season Bass – Lewis County

On May 5, ECO Tim Worden assisted Fort Drum Federal Game Wardens Colton Rider and Steve Ramil in the investigation of a group taking black bass during the closed season from Indian Lake in the town of Diana. A group had been camping for the weekend at the lake and five black bass were found by the wardens in a cooler. One of the campers took responsibility for the illegally caught fish and was charged with five counts of taking black bass during the closed season. The tickets are returnable to the Town of Diana Court on June 6.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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