Animals

Turn in dangerous or illegal animals at amnesty event

Brookhaven officials are urging residents to turn in endangered or dangerous animals on Oct. 10. Last year, people turned in alligators and marmosets. File photo

Residents can turn in any protected, endangered or threatened animals that require special New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits without fear of penalties or questioning on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Brookhaven Town’s second Amnesty Day at the Holtsville Ecology Center will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and people owning dangerous or illegals animals will be able to hand them over to trained professionals from the town, the DEC, the wildlife service and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The agencies will relocate animals turned in that cannot be kept at the ecology center.

“All too often people will harbor unlicensed or illegal pets without realizing the dangers they pose or the amount of care they require,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a press release. “This often leads to these animals being dumped by someone who once had it as a pet. An example of this is the 25-pound alligator snapping turtle that was recently found in the Nissequogue River in Smithtown.”

That turtle, a freshwater reptile that officials said had enough power to bite off a human finger or toe, was discovered in the stream opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25 in Smithtown in late August. It is not indigenous to Long Island — it is usually found in the region from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

At the Amnesty Day on Oct. 10, residents can “do the right thing for the safety of their neighbors and for the well-being of these animals,” Losquadro said.

Last year’s town event saw 25 animals turned in at the ecology center, including a western diamondback rattlesnake, a green anaconda, four boa constrictors, an American alligator and two marmosets. It was the most successful amnesty event the SPCA has ever had.

“The purpose of this effort is to get these illegally possessed animals into a controlled environment where they can be cared for properly,” SPCA Chief Roy Gross said. “People who are in possession of these animals unlawfully can turn them in to us without fear of prosecution. No one will be asked to give their name.”

The ecology center is located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville.

For more information, call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722, NYSDEC at 631-444-0250 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 516-825-3950.

Huntington Town Board votes to allow bow hunting of animals

Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to amend town code to allow bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The board’s move was in response to Eaton’s Neck residents’ concerns of deer overpopulating their communities. Residents there have told town officials that they believe the animals have contributed to increased car accidents, tick-borne illnesses and a downgrade in their community’s quality of life.

“I think the Town Board did a great job in recognizing the fact that we have a problem,” Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said in a phone interview. “It’s a fantastic decision. It took the courage of the board to make this difficult decision.”

The decision comes after a heated summer-long debate, with some residents strongly in favor of this resolution, and others staunchly against it.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that this resolution takes the town’s firearms legislation, and amends it to include deer hunting with bows on private property with the approval of the property owner after the hunter has obtained a DEC permit.

Deer hunting season is just around the corner, starting on Oct. 1 and ending Jan. 31.

The supervisor said that homeowners themselves would go in and decide how they want to handle hiring a hunter to shoot deer on their property.

“We’ve gotten community groups and civic groups involved,” Petrone said. The groups will help find someone qualified, a deer hunter or deer hunter group, to come in. He called it a safety measure, so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

Deer hunters need to be approved by residents before they hunt on the residents’ private property. Petrone said hunters would most likely have to sign something like a release before hunting.

Also, in a separate resolution, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing to consider adopting a law to introduce a deer management program.

Petrone said he recognizes that some residents say that bow hunting is not favorable, and that they are more interested in a method to reduce deer numbers through using contraceptives. He said he’s been researching annual contraceptive drugs, which require tagging deer, tranquilizing them and following up every year. He has also learned of a drug called GonaCon, a contraceptive drug that would only have to be given once. The company that is offering this drug would actually pay for this drug, because they want it to be used, according to Petrone.

“A deer management program will provide for various alternatives,” Petrone said. “One of the things that’s really being looked at is the contraception concept.”

Concepts are also being looked at for herding programs, to help round up deer, and get a count of how many deer there actually are in the area.

“What this is is we’ve started the process, because there is a need to begin,” Petrone said about the mission of the management program. “Let’s now get into sophisticating this as a real management program.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) supported all the bills on the deer issue.

“I recognize the seriousness of this issue for the residents of Eaton’s Neck,” she said in a phone interview.

In terms of the deer management program, Berland said, “it’s a natural second half of this.”

“I think we need to look into deer management; we need a long-term plan. Not everybody wants hunting on their property. We have to appeal to everyone.”

Following public outcry against a plan to eliminate wild mute swan populations over the next decade, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has released a new draft of its plan that focuses on “nonlethal” methods to control the birds.

Thousands of people, including animal rights advocates and environmentalists, had sent in comments last year on the previous draft of the plan, whose stated long-term goal was “to eliminate free-ranging mute swans from New York State by 2025.” Many took issue with the DEC’s plans to euthanize the adult birds and questioned the validity of the department’s research on mute swans’ impact on the environment.

In addition, state legislators approved a two-year moratorium on any plan to euthanize the swans and required the DEC to “give priority to nonlethal management techniques.”

The first draft of the plan also called for using some swans for zoological purposes and transferring others to people licensed to hold them in captivity.

According to the DEC, mute swans, which have orange beaks and make less noise than other types of swans, can contribute to high fecal coliform bacteria counts on bodies of water used for drinking or swimming. They can also attack humans, which can make them “a serious nuisance and render some land or water areas inaccessible for outdoor recreation during the nesting season.”

There are about 2,200 free-ranging mute swans in New York, the DEC has estimated, and they can be found on Long Island, in New York City and in the lower Hudson Valley and Lake Ontario regions. The population has jumped from where it was in the 1970s, when mute swans numbered fewer than 700.

New York has other species of swan, but mute swans are considered invasive and non-native — they were brought here in the late 1800s and used for ornamental purposes — and thus were targeted for management. The DEC’s goal, as stated in the plan’s most recent draft, is to reduce the mute swan population to its 1980 numbers: fewer than 800 birds.

The DEC has been operating under the same species management plan since 1993, and the new mute swan plan would replace the older one. In preparation for the plan, the DEC conducted research between 2004 and 2008 “to document abundance, survival, reproduction, movements, ecological impacts and management of mute swans in New York.”

Following public backlash of the first draft, the department this month released its new draft of the management plan, which focuses on alternatives to euthanization, and a document responding to public comments it received.

“Because many people object to the use of lethal control methods, especially killing adult birds, DEC will use ‘nonlethal’ methods … where practical and timely, to achieve the management objectives,” the new plan stated. Those methods could include terminating embryos in the swans’ eggs or placing the birds in licensed facilities.

“However, this will require some commitment of funding and assistance from organizations and individuals who wish to see nonlethal options used to the extent possible. Placement and proper care of swans in public parks or other controlled settings can be costly to local governments or communities.”

Despite the emphasis on nonlethal methods, the DEC said in its response to public comments, officials would still resort to lethal methods “wherever immediate removal of birds is necessary to alleviate a site-specific conflict … and live-capture is not practical or no facility is readily available to accept the birds.”

The new DEC plan’s agenda for minimizing the impacts of mute swans on other wildlife and habitats includes increasing public support and awareness; preventing new swans from entering wild populations “through intentional releases, escapes or natural reproduction”; and controlling the number of mute swans on downstate tidal waters.

Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), one of the legislators who worked to place a moratorium on the swan euthanization, said in a statement last week that the DEC “has heard our concerns and has begun to move in the right direction.”

But the new plan still allows for swans to be eliminated under certain circumstances, and he cautioned that the birds “should only be destroyed as the absolute last resort, and only when they are posing public danger.”

The public can comment on the plan until April 24. Comments can be submitted to FW.wildlf@dec.ny.gov or to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

Bailey brought comfort to personnel in Afghanistan

Bailey’s journey isn’t over yet, but she has found her home again after reuniting with Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady at the Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station on July 4.

Fireworks popped in the distance as the Anatolian shepherd mix whined, wagged her tail and moved frantically around Brady, whom she had not seen in a couple of months.

The National Guardsman and his unit took in Bailey in the fall, when she was about eight weeks old. The dog had previously been tagging along with the Afghani army and the American unit quickly became attached to her. Brady, who recently finished his second tour, said she provided comfort to soldiers who were away from their kids, families and pets.

When the unit went back stateside, “Just leaving her there just didn’t seem right.”

That’s where the Guardians of Rescue came in. Dori Scofield, the group’s vice president as well as Save-A-Pet’s founder, said Brady contacted her three months ago about bringing Bailey to the United States. Guardians of Rescue, which rescues and finds homes for animals in need, raised $5,000 in nine days to help the soldier and “his battle buddy Bailey.”

Guardians of Rescue president Robert Misseri said Afghanistan can be a hostile environment for a dog, and when some people find a dog U.S. soldiers have left behind, they will kill it.

For all military personnel do for their country, “the least we can do is help them get their war buddy home,” Scofield said.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady is reunited with Bailey the dog, above, on Independence Day. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady is reunited with Bailey the dog, above, on Independence Day. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Nowzad, an organization that rescues dogs in Afghanistan, brought the dog to Kabul for her vaccinations and to get her spayed, she said. Bailey, who is now about 11 months old, made a stop at a kennel in Dubai before being shipped to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Scofield picked her up there on July 2.

“I walked into the cargo area and heard ‘Woof woof.’”

Scofield said Brady had been in constant contact with her and when she told him the dog was having a bath, he texted back, “She went from peasant to princess.”

Bailey waited at Save-A-Pet for a couple of days for her soldier to pick her up and take her with him on a road trip back to his home in Sacramento, Calif., where Brady has two sons.

The staff sergeant, who is still on active duty, is also a deputy sheriff in nearby Placer County.

Scofield said Bailey “loves everybody, but she’s looking for him.”

When Scofield brought Bailey outside to where Brady was waiting on the afternoon of July 4, she ran to her whistling friend and whined as he laughed and petted her.

“She got a lot bigger,” Brady said.

Bailey may have been unsure when she first went outside to be reunited with her buddy, Scofield said, but when Brady whistled to her, “you saw the light bulb go off in her head.”

Director pulls 15 felines from condemned home, waiting on adoptions to help more in cat colony

Three cats emerge from the bushes at a house in Port Jefferson after Save-A-Pet volunteers put out food Monday for the numerous cats living on the property. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Erica Kutzing has already pulled 15 cats from a condemned house and its surrounding property on Oakwood Road in Port Jefferson, but she said there are between 20 and 25 more left.

“And that’s of the ones that we can see.”

There could be more hiding — the property has a lot of foliage and the house is a mess. There are flies and cobwebs all over the junk inside, the ceiling is coming down in some places and there is a strong smell, partly of cat urine.

Dori Scofield nets an injured gray kitten, and Frankie Floridia and Erica Kutzing help her put it into a crate. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Dori Scofield nets an injured gray kitten, and Frankie Floridia and Erica Kutzing help her put it into a crate. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Kutzing, director of operations at Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station, would like to continue taking the friendly cats back with her to the shelter, but it is full. Her operation on Oakwood Road is partly on hold until some people start adopting the animals and free up space. Until then, with the permission of the owner, she visits the site every day to deliver food and clean water, and to help the cats that need it the most.

The first day she brought food to the house, she said, “they swarmed us,” and the cats tried to chew through the bags of food. “They were starving.” In the roughly three weeks since she started feeding them — with donations from the community — she estimates they’ve each gained about five pounds.

On Monday, Kutzing brought the usual five cans of wet food and full bag of cat food to Oakwood Road. A couple of cats watched as she cleaned aluminum trays filled with muddy rainwater from a storm the night before and replaced the dirty water with the food, with the help of volunteers Frankie Floridia and his son Dylan Inghilleri. Then other felines started to emerge from bushes and windows and below a dumpster on the front lawn.

Cats eat at a house in Port Jefferson after Save-A-Pet volunteers put out food. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Cats eat at a house in Port Jefferson after Save-A-Pet volunteers put out food. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Most of the animals, Kutzing said, are the property owner’s pets. While he loves them and his pet ownership started with the best intentions, “cats can breed faster than you can stop them.” Some of those still at the house are friendly, but they have become wild because of their living situation.

The Port Times Record reported in November that there once also were four Alaskan huskies on the property, but they were removed when firefighters investigating smoke found unsafe conditions inside the house. That’s when it was condemned.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, four misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty are still pending against the owner.

Dori Scofield, director of the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center and founder and president of Save-A-Pet, said there are many houses like this all over the town and the country, where people have good intentions that “go haywire,” and their properties are overrun with animals. “They get in over their heads.”

Scofield was the one who first received a call, in her role with the town, about the house and went to investigate.

She was also at the site Monday, and netted a 6-month-old gray kitten that Kutzing said had a broken tail and possibly a broken pelvis.

A female kitten at a house in Port Jefferson named Pinot came out to see rescue volunteers, who visit the property every day. Photo by Elana Glowatz
A female kitten at a house in Port Jefferson named Pinot came out to see rescue volunteers, who visit the property every day. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Kutzing explained that it was painful for the kitten to walk and “with every step her lower end drops to the floor.” She added when the kitten eats her daily deliveries, usually she will lie down in the aluminum tray.

Monday, the cat ate from outside the tray, but she sneezed multiple times throughout her meal. Kutzing explained that the kitten also has an upper respiratory infection.

After Scofield quickly threw the net over the gray kitten, Kutzing and Floridia helped her put the kitten into a carrier to take back to Save-A-Pet for treatment. Afterward, she will likely be released back at the house.

Scofield said she didn’t want to see the cats stay at the condemned house permanently, and it would be ideal for someone with a barn to take in the feral cats.

Kutzing stressed the need for adoptions and that the cats at Save-A-Pet that had been pulled from the Oakwood Road house have been medically cleared and are good with other cats “because it’s all they know.” The organization needs homes for both the young cats and the older ones, she said, adding that older cats can be positive because they know how to use a litter box and owners will already know the cats’ personalities.

Scofield also stressed that people who find themselves with a large number of animals “shouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help,” either from Save-A-Pet or Brookhaven Animal Shelter. “We’ll do whatever we can to help them.”

Kutzing urged against concerned residents visiting the Oakwood Road property on their own. She said it would be trespassing and she doesn’t want anyone “to hinder our trapping by scaring the cats,” because they are now comfortable around the volunteers.

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