The hills may have eyes, but in New York the trees have cameras. It took 15 months of investigation and lab work for the Department of Environmental Conservation to get two Sullivan county men to admit to illegally taking a deer. The story sounds like an episode of New York SUV.

The tale begins with an anonymous complaint of an illegally taken deer in the town of Mamakating in Sullivan County. The report indicated men had taken a deer with the use of a rifle during bow season and had used bait to attract deer. The person lodging the slung across his back and a deer tied to the rack.

ECO Michael Hameline began the investigation canvassing the area searching for witnesses. he didn't find any, but he did find an ATV matching the photo that was still warm and had fresh blood splatters.  Fellow conservation officer, Ricky Wood, and K9 Deming were brought in to assist with the case.

The trio followed a blood trail along an ATV path that led to a baited tree stand and more blood. K9 Deming is trained in shell case detection and found a recently fired shell casing at the tree stand. Another trail camera was also located facing the tree stand. Officers collected the evidence and blood samples.

Following a year of analysis and interviews, the DEC was able to obtain a search warrant. This enabled the State Police Forensic Unit to recover hundreds of deleted images from the seized trail camera. Analysis of the blood samples by the DEC's Wildlife Health Unit confirmed the blood recovered from the stand and the ATV were from the same deer.

Confronted with the evidence, two men. Joseph Sabatello of Wurstboro and Michael Zielinski of Hopewell Junction pled guilty to the charges earlier this month. Sabatello, identified as the primary offender, was fined $2,517.50; Zielinski, his accomplice, was fined $1,910. The two will have to pay a DNA restitution fee of $450,

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