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New York officers ticket striped bass poachers after discovering illegal catches hidden in odd places

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After a series of compliance checks were conducted on Long Island, several officers with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Law Enforcement discovered something rather fishy.

Striped bass fishing season in marine waters and the Delaware River does not start until April 15, according to the New York DEC, but some eager fisherman decided to get an illegal head start and the Environmental Conservation Officers (EOC) were quick to act.

Late into the evening on April 6, ECO Brent McCarthy saw multiple individuals catching striped bass, and he witnessed the anglers keeping the out-of-season fish instead of releasing them back into the water, the DEC reported in a recent press release.

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Since there was no moonlight that evening, McCarthy struggled to find where the anglers in question had hidden the illegal catches, so he called in ECO Christopher DeRose and his K-9, Cramer, to assist.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was busy at work tracking down a series of striped bass that had been caught and kept before the season’s official start date of April 15. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

The K-9 on duty had recovered a total of 16 striped bass, measuring from 25 to 35 inches in length, buried under the sand and even hidden under various logs and brush piles, the DEC reported.

Following the discovery, McCarthy and DeRose ticketed seven people “for taking striped bass during the closed season.”

The reports did not stop there, as poachers got more creative in hiding the illegal catches.

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The next day, another ECO, Lawrence Pabes, responded to a report about three anglers who had been stashing the striped bass on the Bayville Bridge in Mill Neck ahead of the April 15 season opener.

Striped-bass-in-traffic-cones

Three anglers attempted to hide the out-of-season fish in traffic cones along the top of the Bayville Bridge in Mill Neck, New York, on Long Island. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

Pabes worked alongside the Brookville Police to confront the individuals who denied possessing any of the fish, the DEC reproted.

After looking around the area, seven striped bass were discovered hidden inside the traffic cones along the top of the bridge.

Tickets were issued to the three subjects for “illegal possession of fish during the closed season and failure to carry marine registry,” the DEC reported.

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The following evenings, April 8 and April 9, three EOCs on duty received and responded to multiple complaints in Suffolk and Nassau County as more individuals allegedly caught and kept the illegal catches.

EOC-Day-with-out-of-season-striped-bass

Environmental Conservation Police Officer Day assisted with the siege of 10 fish on April 8 and April 9. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

Another 10 striped bass were seized both nights and seven people were ticketed for possession of out-of-season striped bass. An additional three were ticketed for failing to possess a marine registry, the DEC continued.

“Environmental Conservation Police Officers and Investigators serving in DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement are working tirelessly across the state to protect natural resources and public safety while holding poachers and polluters accountable,” DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said in a statement published online.

“DEC looks forward to continuing to work with our local, State, and federal law enforcement partners to ensure compliance with New York’s stringent environmental conservation laws and promote the safe and responsible enjoyment of the outdoors.” 

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Now that striped bass season is officially underway, the DEC made a recent announcement about the fish just in time for the season to begin.

striped-bass-iStock

The New York State DEC announced a new regulation for striped bass caught in the Hudson River and other streams north of the George Washington Bridge, saying that only fish measuring between 23 and 28 inches may be kept. (iStock)

Any striped bass caught in the Hudson River and in other streams north of the George Washington Bridge, an area in which fishing season started on April 1, may only be kept if those catches measured between 23 and 28 inches in length, the DEC announced.

The updated regulation will be taken into effect immediately.

The New York State DEC has been working hard to protect and preserve the fish and wildlife of the state since it was founded in 1970.

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“In 2023, the Division of Law Enforcement fielded more than 101,500 calls, resulting in Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Investigators across the state responding to more than 30,932 complaints and working on cases that resulted in nearly 16,900 tickets or arrests for violations ranging from deer poaching to solid waste dumping, illegal mining, the illegal pet trade, and excessive emissions violations,” according to the DEC’s website.

illegal striped bass seized Split

Environmental Conservation Officers on Long Island have been busy catching fishing poachers who reeled in out-of-season striped bass and hid them in various locations – including traffic cones. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

The officers involved in the ticketing had no further comment.

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