According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the four young men face up to $1700 in fines after posting the photos on Instagram.
“The pursuit and capture of native wildlife is not tolerated in New York State,” DEC Regional Director Peter A. Scully said. “Although these young men may have thought their actions were harmless and trivial, serious consequences can occur due to these types of actions. Wildlife can be dangerous and unpredictable, and DEC’s environmental conservation offices deserve recognition for their successful pursuit of this case.”
On Oct. 31, DEC environmental conservation officers were provided with two images captured from Instagram, an online photo-sharing site, after an anonymous complaint, the DEC said.
The photos revealed the men posing with a live yearling whitetail deer. In both pictures, one man, George Salzmann, 18, of Calverton, was holding the "stressed" deer, the DEC siad.
On Nov. 1, 2013, environmental conservation officers recognized Salzmann and three friends at a local business in Calverton and questioned them about the deer.
Presented with evidence, Salzmann eventually admitted he captured two deer, the DEC said; an investigation revealed that Salzmann captured the deer along Grumman Boulevard in Calverton.
Salzmann's friends, Conor Lingerfelt, 19, of Jamesport, Joseph Sacchitello, 20, of Riverhead, and Anthony Infantolino, 20, of Wading River, were all involved with the illegal capture of the second deer, the DEC said.
The ECOs said the men caught the deer for "a thrill," using a vehicle to chase down and capture at least one of the deer alongside a fence on Hulse Landing Road.
Tickets were issued for the illegal take and pursuit of protected wildlife, white tailed deer, and for failing to tag a six point buck deer head that Salzman possessed at his home. All tickets are violations that carry a potential fine of up to $250 each. The young men are to appear at Riverhead Justice Court on Nov. 27.
According to the DEC, the deer were brought back to a residence in Wading River where they were released, to the best of the DEC's knowledge, unharmed.
George Salzmann III, also of Calverton, said he wanted to set the record straight. His grandson, he said, tried to help the deer. "I agree he shouldn't have taken it to his house, but he is a good boy. He does a lot for conservation; he hunts deer and gives them to food banks."
In addition, Salzmann said his grandson does not have "illegal" deerheads or tags; one deer ran into the side of his truck and in that case, he said, "you are allowed to keep that deer."
All native species of wildlife are protected under New York State law. The pursuit and capture of any native wildlife is illegal without an appropriate permit. These actions cannot only significantly stress or injure a wild animal, but also may endanger the individual attempting to capture the animal, the DEC said. In addition, certain wildlife are not well suited for life in captivity and may carry diseases that can be transmitted to people, the DEC said.
Individuals who spot illegal activities are encouraged to call DEC’s Environmental Conservation Police at (631) 444-0250 during business hours, and 1-877-457-5680 or 1-800-TIPP-DEC at all other times to report suspected illegal activities.