hamptons local events, express news group

Story - News

Oct 13, 2015 9:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Friendly Deer Hangs Out With Locals At Shinnecock Inlet

Molly Fargo, 14, of Hampton Bays, feeds a deer an apple at the Shinnecock Inlet. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Oct 14, 2015 11:14 AM

Hampton Bays has an unusual celebrity taking over the Shinnecock Inlet: a friendly deer.

The small deer was first spotted near the western side of the inlet about two weeks ago, according to locals. Since then kids, fishermen and families have been returning to the area to play with and feed the young deer.

Although the gender of the deer is unclear, Molly Fargo, a 14-year-old from Hampton Bays, said she likes to call the deer Elliot because it reminds her of Elliot the deer from the 2006 animated movie “Open Season” that is voiced by Ashton Kutcher. “This deer is so friendly and eats everything,” Molly said. “Just like Elliot.”

In the movie, Elliot the deer is rescued from a hunter by Boog, a grizzly bear. Together, the unlikely friends rescue other animals in the woods to keep them safe from hunters.

While Molly’s Elliot appears to be friendly, eating apples and lettuce left for it by onlookers—and, in some instances, being fed directly by those stopping to catch a glimpse of the animal—officials with the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays are warning people that they should not be feeding it. It is against the law to feed wild deer in New York State—and it’s also detrimental to the deer.

“It’s not good for it nutritiously, and it’s not going to be good for its independence,” said Virginia Frati, executive director of the rescue center.

Ms. Frati said her facility is working on sending a volunteer down to the inlet to rescue the deer and find it a new home. When that does happen, possibly within the next few days, the individual will likely have to give the deer a tranquilizer before transporting it back to the facility in one of the center’s vans.

Once that happens, volunteers will continue to tend to the deer until they can find it a forever home—perhaps a licensed sanctuary or a game farm, according to Ms. Frati. “We’re going to try and get it, and perhaps find a place for him,” she said this week.

She said she suspects that the deer might have been raised by people in the area, pointing to its lack of fear when it is approached by strangers.

“By taming them you’re not doing them any favors,” Ms. Frati said. “You’re pretty much giving them a death sentence.”

Since the deer was spotted two weeks ago, Ms. Frati said her rescue center has received about 25 calls about the animal.

Although some people are continuing to feed it, the State Department of Environmental Conservation notes on its website that doing so is illegal and that those who do can face fines of up to $250 and up to 15 days in jail for each day that the offense is committed.

The laws are in place, according to the website, because feeding deer can cause more animals to survive than the natural habitat can support, and the animal can have digestive problems if its diet is suddenly changed.

“We’ve been advising the people who called us to contact the Department of Environmental Conservation, because it’s illegal for people to feed wildlife and it creates a hazard when wildlife become tame,” said Marisa Nelson, assistant director of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.

When reached on Tuesday afternoon, Aphrodite Montalvo, a spokeswoman for the DEC, said she did not know if the agency had yet been notified of the situation at the Shinnecock Inlet.

Those who stopped to feed the deer this week said they were prompted to do so because they feared for the animal’s well-being, stating that it appeared to be domesticated.

“I do gardening where they run around, but none of them is like this,” Hampton Bays resident Meredith McKinney said of the deer. “She is just so gentle. It would be so easy for someone to hurt her.”

Ms. McKinney brought the deer apples, lettuce, carrots and other assorted vegetables on Monday afternoon—four days after she first spotted the deer—because she was worried about it not having enough food to eat.

“You can tell it’s young, because it’s choosing apples over its greens,” Ms. McKinney said with a laugh, comparing the deer to a child.

On Monday afternoon, Ms. McKinney was joined by Molly, who is also a volunteer at the Southampton Animal Shelter and a frequent visitor to the inlet to see Elliot over the past week.

“They say they’re more scared of you than you are of them,” Molly said, “but that’s not the case with her. I think a small kid would be more scared of her.”

She added that she hopes someone comes soon to rescue Elliot. “I don’t think she knows she’s a wild animal,” Molly said.

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Pretty astounding but doesn't anyone else see this as being an incredibly bad idea both for that young lady and the deer?
By em (51), sagaponack on Oct 13, 15 10:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
By Ibill (47), remsenburg on Oct 14, 15 12:54 PM
The truly clueless entities here are the reporter and her editor! nice photo spread of someone committing an illegal act that would only encourage others to do the same.... But then the Press left the ethics of journalism behind some time ago.
By the way those hooves can do some impressive damage. I wonder if the liability tail for any future injuries reaches back to the paper.
By Split Rock (68), North Haven on Oct 13, 15 11:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
I cannot believe that the Press is ignorant enough to publish this article and photos with a positive slant on it.

Editors - it is ILLEGAL in the State of NY to feed deer.

Aside from that, I can't imagine SNUGGLING with a deer is a good idea, particularly along the rocks of a jetty at the Shinnecock Inlet. If this deer freaks or kicks, the girl and the deer can easily end up in the Inlet. It would be pretty hard to fish someone out of the inlet after the were knocked unconscious ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Oct 13, 15 12:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
I suppose your worst case scenario is an extremely remote possibility but hardly likely. The activity seems pretty harmless to all concerned and may not be illegal as you claim; here's what the DEC says: "In New York, it is illegal to feed deer and moose by putting out any material that attracts them to feed." If the food is being given directly to a single animal rather than being laid out to attract them it would be a tough case to prosecute. I guess some people just love to complain.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 14, 15 1:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
Not to mention the tics this deer is most likely infested with.....
By MaryMcClain (4), Great River, New York on Oct 13, 15 12:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hey, how about the people petting it. What diseases do they probably carry that could hurt the poor creature? And those SOB's from Remsenburg, what about their hunting arrows? The location will only give them the chance to harm the poor little guy/girl.
By Ibill (47), remsenburg on Oct 14, 15 1:00 PM
Would you people spare me the bs.There are deer slaughtered by cars and hunters so if you're worried save those deer. Maybe this story will show deer are animals with thoughts, and feelings.Maybe it will teach us to live with nature not destruct it. So make sure all you busy bodies call the DEC so you can ruin a good thing. By the way its 15 fays in jail for feeding a deer? What a stupid punitive society we have become.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 14, 15 1:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
The sex of the deer is unclear? Ummmmm not even sure what to say to that one!
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Oct 14, 15 7:21 AM
Some hunter is silently thanking all these people for fattening up this deer and making it so he can walk right up and kill it with a knife out of season.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Oct 14, 15 8:51 AM
It’s a shame it’s going to a petting zoo, but it’s the best alternative. She greets the boats and crews everyday day as they unload lunch boxes full of food kind of like a dog, docile and very friendly, follows the dock help into the office and box rooms.Kind of like saying all P
itbulls are viscous and nasty. She really is quite the star on the west side, but, putting her somewhere safe is the best alternative, she’s even there to ho help (in her mind) me working on ...more
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Oct 14, 15 8:52 AM
2 members liked this comment
Maybe Sears Bellows park could start a petting zoo, she would definitely fit right in, she does like people.
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Oct 14, 15 8:58 AM
Jesus, some of these comments are proof of why we can't have nice things out here. Saddens me to be surrounded by such miserable people. I hope the deer is ok and nothing malicious occurred.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Oct 15, 15 11:50 AM
i hope it winds up with an arrow in it
By BrianWilliams (87), on Oct 20, 15 9:25 PM