New York State lost one of its great conservationists recently with the passing of Wayne Brewer, 69, a former DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO), nature enthusiast, and outdoor writer from Seneca County.
In 1975, Brewer attended the first-ever Basic Training School for ECOs, where he won the Director’s Award for the highest grade point average. Just two years later, Brewer was awarded the prestigious Conservation Officer of the Year award.
Brewer went on to help create DEC’s criminal investigation unit, the Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigations (BECI), and was instrumental in the development of many of the investigative procedures still in use today. In addition, Brewer headed up “Operation Berkshire,” a two-year long undercover operation that targeted the illegal trafficking of black bear gall bladders from the northeastern United States to Asia and resulted in more than 1,000 charges. Operation Berkshire helped establish the standard for undercover surveillance and day-to-day operations of fish and wildlife enforcement in New York.
At just 31, Brewer became the youngest person promoted to Captain in DEC’s history. As an ECO, he served in the Finger Lakes, New York City, Long Island, and Albany. He was promoted to Director of the Division of Law Enforcement in 1997.
Although Brewer retired from DEC in 1999, he continued his work with the environment and wildlife through his 20-year career as an outdoor writer. He will be greatly missed, but we will honor his legacy by continuing the conservation and preservation efforts he fought for his entire life.
The thoughts of the entire DEC family are with the Brewer family at this difficult time.
Photos courtesy of NYSDEC