Did you know that there are 71 chapters of NY Environmental Conservation law and that's it's the job of the almost 300 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Officers to know that law and be able to enforce it to protect fish and wildlife as well as our environment.

On any given day, they could be dealing with corporate toxic dumping, black market pet trade, illegal mining, deer poaching, and more. On Sunday, May 14, during a routine patrol of the Swinging Bridge Reservoir in Bethel, ECO's Tom Koepf and Travis McNamara found themselves dealing with a variety of illegal fishing activity.

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The officers observed three men who were not only cleaning fish on the banks of the reservoir, they had also apparently been camping along the reservoir, and had several garbage bags full of fish.

While most were carp, four smallmouth bass and one undersized walleye were also found. Since bass season isn't open yet, the ECOs issued five tickets, for taking fish out of season, taking undersized fish, and fishing without a license. They were verbally warned about camping on posted property. The issue will be dealt with at a later date in the Bethel Town Court.

Should you witness an environmental crime or believe that a violation has occurred, please call the NYSDEC law enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

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