Home Advocate Advocates call for changes near animal rescue where deer were shot

Advocates call for changes near animal rescue where deer were shot

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HAMPTON BAYS, NY – Outraged animal advocates are set to urge lawmakers on Monday to terminate an agreement that allows hunters to cross Suffolk County lands near a wildlife rescue center in Hampton Bays where a deer was killed recently, a few meters from the installation.

Last week, the hunter who shot and killed a deer just yards from the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center was arrested and charged, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said.

After the deer was shot, not only were staff at the wildlife rescue center devastated by the deer’s death – the facility’s executive director, Virginia Frati, her clothes covered in blood, tried unsuccessfully to save the injured animal – but concerns have been raised. about the hunters shooting so close to the facility, and about members of the public walking and biking on a nearby nature trail.

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When the shots were fired, a slug ran through a cage and approached wildlife rescue workers, missing by a few feet, Frati said.

Wildlife rescue and animal advocates say a change needs to happen: As things stand, Frati said, for about 20 years she’s been pleading with Suffolk County officials to terminate a agreement that allows hunters to cross a strip of land owned by the county. to reach the New York State-sanctioned Henry’s Hollow hunting area adjacent to this parcel.

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On Monday, Frati, along with John Di Leonardo, founder of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, and others, will travel to the William H. Rogers Building in Hauppauge to implore the Suffolk County Legislature to implore that the agreement is extinguished.

Frati said she planned to attend the meeting to “emphasize to our owners that after half a dozen incidents over the years and this last close call, our employees no longer feel secure. safety when working in the outer cage areas”.

Frati added that since the deer was shot there have been gunshots every day, far more than ever heard in recent years.

“Wildlife rehabilitators should not have to work in fear of being shot and killed at Suffolk County’s only wildlife hospital, where large numbers of patients are recovering from being shot and left to languish by hunters first,” Di Leonardo said.

LION and conservationists across the island are urging the Suffolk County Parks Department and the Suffolk County Legislature to rescind the agreement, a deal ‘which should never have been granted in the first place’ , did he declare.

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said she welcomes the input from advocates who have been impacted by the hunt so close to the wildlife rehabilitation center.

Fleming said she asked the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to suspend hunting at the site until investigations are complete and the legislature has had an opportunity to “review and thoroughly reconsider the terms of the contract which allows access to the county park which is used by the center – in light of the alarming incident involving shootings near the center, its staff and volunteers. “

When asked if she would support canceling the deal and if it could happen soon, Fleming said she was working with New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele to “explore substantial changes to the agreement in light of public safety concerns”.

According to NYSDEC, on January 13, DEC Environmental Protection Officers, working with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, arrested Isidoro Scarola, 75, of Islip Terrace.

He was charged with fourth degree criminal mischief, misdemeanor and engaging in posted activity in a ‘no hunting area’, discharging a shotgun within 500 feet of an agricultural structure and illegal taking of protected wildlife, all violations, the NYSDEC says.

The charges were brought after the Jan. 4 incident at DEC’s Henrys Hollow Pine Barrens state logging property after Scarola voluntarily surrendered to New York State Police at Riverside Barracks, a said the NYSDEC.

He is due to appear in Southampton City Court on February 2, the NYSDEC said.

Among the charges, Frati said on Wednesday: “While it is heartening that he got caught, previous episodes that I have reported show that my staff and the public are not safe in this park and the neither is the wildlife we ​​spend so much time rehabilitating.. And we were here first.

The DEC did not immediately return a request for comment on the proposed hunting ban on this parcel.

Thiele said he was pleased to see the matter had been thoroughly investigated and NYSDEC had brought the “appropriate” charges against the hunter. “Nevertheless, hunting should never have been allowed in this area, so close to the wildlife rehabilitation center. The DEC and the county must review their agreement. There must be a larger buffer zone and no hunting allowed there. where public safety cannot be guaranteed.”

According to NYSDEC, Environmental Protection Officers Jacob Clark and Rob McCabe received a complaint from workers at the Hampton Bays Wildlife Rescue Center about a hunter who shot a deer on their property. Officers responded and found a deer near the animal holding area behind the center, the DEC said.

ECOs interviewed Scarola, who said he entered from a legal parking spot of a hunting cooperative and mistakenly entered an area where hunting is prohibited, the DEC said.

DEC environmental officers also found bullet holes in the fence and door damage to an animal housing and storage shed, the DEC said.

Additionally, ECO Christopher DeRose and K-9 Cramer also responded and found three spent shotgun shells within 500 feet of the occupied buildings, the DEC said.

It is illegal to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a structure in use unless you own it, rent it, or have permission from the owner, according to the DEC website.

Describing the shots that rang out outside the rescue centre, Frati said she was horrified by what she found when she ran outside to investigate.

“I saw that a hunter had shot a deer that was lying, still alive, near our raccoon enclosures,” she said.

Both shots were heard around 9:30 a.m., Frati said. She picked up the deer, its arms, face, pants and glasses covered in its blood, and tried unsuccessfully to save it, she said. But despite his best attempts, the deer died.

“It was the most horrible and traumatic thing I have ever experienced,” Frati said. “I was just sobbing. The deer fell to the ground a meter from one of our cages,” Frati said. “There shouldn’t be a hunting area near an animal center. It’s like putting a pornography store or an adult bookstore next to a children’s playground.”

According to Di Leonardo, those who wish to speak at the meeting but cannot attend in person can do so via Zoom, emailing [email protected], writing a letter to the office of the Clerk, Suffolk County Legislature, PO Box 6100, Hauppauge, NY 11788, or by calling and leaving audio testimony at 631-853-3685; callers can leave a 3-minute message.