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LI Wildlife Rescue where deer was shot urges Hochul to accept hunting ban

HAMPTON BAYS, NY – Months after a deer was shot just yards from the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, lawmakers in June signed a bill banning hunting on this plot in June. coming.

The measure has received bipartisan support and is only to be signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul — but the legislation wasn’t delivered to the governor’s office until Tuesday for signing, said Virginia Frati, executive director of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Center. Hochul has until Dec. 17 to sign or veto the bill, she said.

Frati urges Hochul to sign the bill. “It’s a matter of public safety,” Frati said. “I am concerned about the safety of our staff who work outdoors. Since this happened, staff no longer want to work outdoors.”

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Frati said she had seen hunters on the property and next to the rescue center for years.

And, she noted, “We were here first. It’s important, because I would never have chosen a place close to the hunt.”

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Frati said she and her staff still mourn the deer who died despite her desperate efforts to save him; they erected a lighted memorial, which includes a deer statue, at the very spot where the deer was shot.

“I think about it all the time, absolutely,” Frati said. “At least if it passes, the deer didn’t die in vain.”

On January 4, shots were fired by a hunter at the Henrys Hollow Pine Barrens State Forest Property of the New York State Department of Conservation; the hunter was later charged, the DEC said.

When the shots were fired, a slug ran through a cage and approached wildlife rescue workers, missing by a few yards, Frati said – leaving facility staff fearing for their own safety and for those walking and biking on the nearby trail.

The problem is not new, Frati said. For about 20 years, she said she’s been imploring Suffolk County officials to end a deal that allows hunters to cross a strip of county-owned land to reach the state-sanctioned Henry’s Hollow hunting area. of New York State, adjacent to this parcel.

But now hope is on the horizon: According to New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the bill, sponsored by Thiele in the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo in the Senate, only applies to a 200-acre statewide parcel – the state-owned land in Henry’s Hollow adjacent to the rehabilitation center of wildlife Evelyn Alexander, part of Munn’s Pond County Park.

The Center leased the property for more than 20 years, before any hunting was permitted, Thiele said.

“The Center has raised security concerns for many years with buffer violations,” Thiele said; he added that although a larger stamp from the DEC, all that had been agreed was additional signage, which led to the legislation.

The situation, Thiele said, is “unique. There are only three parking spaces. Hunters have to drive through Center property to get to state property – hence all the conflict.”

And, Thiele added that the legislation is “not an anti-hunting bill. I’ve passed bills that increase opportunities for hunting in the East End. It’s a safety issue.”

Palumbo expressed similar sentiments: “It was a very specific situation and the legislation only applies to this specific plot regarding a safety issue at the wildlife center,” he said. “As a senator, I continue to support our hunters and all avenues to reduce the deer population in the East End. This bill was limited in scope and passed with broad bipartisan support.”

Hochul must sign the bill to enact the legislation.

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming thanked Thiele, Palumbo and everyone who helped create the change. “Legislation has been passed to protect the wildlife center and ensure that hunting will not endanger the safety of workers or animals at the center,” she said.

Frati was thrilled to hear that hunting may soon be banned near the wildlife rescue center: “I’m so encouraged that our state lawmakers have passed this legislation,” she said. “It’s not an animal rights issue. It’s a public safety issue, in that we’ve found hunters and props near our caging buildings on numerous documented occasions. I hope the governor signs this bill into law and ends the torment we have known for 18 years.”

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 the hunter, who said he entered from a legal hunting co-op parking spot 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.
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.”

Although the hunter was about 40 feet away, “the deer fell to the ground literally three feet from one of our cages,” Frati said. “There shouldn’t be a hunting area near an animal center. It’s like putting a porn store or an adult bookstore next to a children’s playground.”

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