Long Island hunter shoots deer near animal hospital

This doe died just yards from an animal hospital on Long Island.

The doe shot by Isidoro Scarola that died just yards from an animal hospital on Long Island. Virginia Frati

A 200-acre public hunting area in Hampton Bays, New York, located on the eastern tip of Long Island, will close after a hunter illegally shot a white-tailed doe in a restricted hunting area near Henry Hallows State Forest. Pine Barrens in early January. Isidoro Scarola, 75, of Islip Terrace, killed the deer from a trail that runs along the outside of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center. The deer died just feet from some raccoon cages on the premises.

“The deer fell to the ground literally three feet from one of our cages,” Virginia Frati, executive director of the rescue center, told Patch.com. “There shouldn’t be a hunting area near a wildlife center. That’s like putting a porn shop or an adult bookstore next to a playground.”

Scarola admitted to investigators that she shot the deer, but she didn’t realize it was from a restricted hunting area. Conservation officials found holes, presumably from the slugs Scarola was using, in the fence on the rescue center’s property, which it has leased from the state for more than 20 years. Frati said the “bullets” only missed his workers by a few feet.

A K-9 unit also found three spent cartridges 500 feet from the buildings. In New York, it is illegal to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied structure unless you own, rent, or have the owner’s permission.

Lawmakers approved the bill to ban hunting at the site this week. Governor Kathy Hochul only needs to sign the bill to make it law.

“I am very encouraged that our state legislators have passed this legislation,” Frati said. “This is not an animal rights issue. This is a public safety issue as we have found poachers and paraphernalia near our caging buildings on many documented occasions. I am hopeful that the Governor will sign this bill into law and end the torment we have been experiencing for 18 years. [since hunting was opened on Henry Hallows].”

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Sen. Anthony Palumbo co-sponsored the bill which they said was not against hunting, but rather for safety. The hunters were crossing property leased by an animal rescue center and a trail used by the public to access a state hunting area, “hence all the conflicts,” Thiele said.

“This was a very specific situation and the legislation only applies to this specific parcel in regards to a security issue at the wildlife center,” Palumbo 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.”

Read next: 5 of the largest dollars ever taken in the Northeast

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Long Island is overcrowded with 25,000 to 30,000 white-tailed deer. The state has implemented culling programs on the island for more than two decades. A deer management assistance program allows licensed hunter tags to harvest antlerless deer on specified parcels in addition to their regular season tags. Deer damage permits are also available on a case-by-case basis in areas where hunting and DMAP have not been an effective means of population control.