The New York Conservation Officers Association

“Conservation for Future Generations”


The New York Conservation Officers Association was formed in 1986, and is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and wise use of our wildlife and natural resources. It is a corporation with Game Protector Shieldtax-exempt status and is a registered charitable organization in New York State.

The membership of the Association consists of active and retired New York State Environmental Conservation Officers and Investigators, and members of the general public.

We accomplish our mission to promote wise use and protection of our wildlife and natural resources through youth education and public outreach. We participate in, and financially support, many events and programs that promote our mission. In the pages of this website, you can see many examples of our involvement. Our Youth Activities page provides reports and photographs from some of the many programs we have participated in and supported financially. For example, in partnership with the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club, our Association helped to develop the Youth Conservation Program on Long Island. For many years this program has been conducted for children between the ages of 12 and 15. This is a two-day experience for youngsters and provides them the opportunity to learn many outdoor skills, camp overnight, and earn their sportsman’s education certificate.

We have continually supported the Make-a-Wish Foundation in their efforts to provide outdoor opportunities for children with disabilities and debilitating diseases. Through financial support, NYCOA became a Corporate Charter Member of the Wild Center, a beautiful natural history museum at Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks. One of our Association’s most successful efforts is the EAGLES Program. “EAGLES” means Environmental Awareness Gives Life to the Eco-System, and was developed by Environmental Conservation Officer Ed Kustyn. The program is a series of one hour presentations designed for school children in grades 6 and 7. Each presentation is intended to educate children about an aspect of our natural resources in an interesting and entertaining manner. There are presentations on wildlife, water, air, wetlands, fish, and one on the role of the Environmental Conservation Officer in protecting those resources. Teachers can request any or all the presentations. Many Environmental Conservation Officers have received special training in the delivery of these EAGLES presentations. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has worked closely with the Association to promote and conduct this very beneficial project.

Each year, the Association funds five college scholarships. Three scholarships are for students pursuing careers in natural resource fields at Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, and Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua. The fourth scholarship (in memory of ECO Jim Ponzio) is for a student pursuing a natural resource career at SUNY Cobleskill, and the fifth scholarship (in memory of Lt. Jim Molinelli) is for the son or daughter of an active Environmental Conservation Officer or Investigator attending college in New York State. More information can be found on the Scholarships Page of this website.

In 1994, the Association created the New York Conservation Officers Relief Fund as a separate and distinct incorporated entity within our organization. The purpose of the Relief Fund is to provide financial assistance and moral support to any wildlife law enforcement officer or retired officer, or their immediate families when faced with tragic circumstances, such as death, injury, catastrophic illness, or natural disaster. Over the years, the Relief Fund has provided assistance to many people across North America.

We hope you will enjoy visiting our website and becoming familiar with the many examples of our efforts to promote the benefits of our natural resources and to be a positive influence on young outdoorsmen and women.


History of the New York State Environmental Conservation Police

Few people realize the great tradition of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Law Enforcement (DLE). The oldest state law enforcement organization in New York remarkably began with a contingent of eight men appointed as Game Protectors in 1880. Since then, DLE has grown to a force of more than 300 uniformed Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and plainclothes investigators. Their dedication to duty has its roots in a long and proud tradition of fish and wildlife enforcement, that also includes environmental protection today. 2005 marked the 125th anniversary of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, and here is its story:

Standing Watch: an Article from The Conservationist Magazine on the History of Environmental Conservation Officers.