DEC: Rehabbing injured deer is illegal

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For decades the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, New York, has been treating injured white-tailed deer, including one named Jane Doe. But now according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, it's illegal. A violation can cost centers their license.

"We get calls, a lot of calls about injured deer," Executive Director Ginnie Frati said. "People don't want to hear that they have to call law enforcement now to shoot them."

Frati is asking the DEC to reconsider the change. She has filed a lawsuit against the state agency arguing that the new rule is inhumane. Jane Doe suffered neurological damage after she was hit by a car. She will never be able to survive in the wild.

"We met with the DEC on several occasions," Frati said. "They claim that adult deer can get habituated in captivity, but a normal deer cannot get habituated in captivity. This has never happened in 20 years."

The new license states any existing deer needed to be put down by May 15. The center was able to get a temporary restraining be order with the court to keep Jane Doe until the next court date in June. Frati said Jane Doe serves an important purpose: taking caring of fauns. 

"She keeps them wild, and they feel more comfortable having something of their own species that they can pal around with," Frati said.

Rehabilitation centers now have 48 hours to make a decision whether to euthanize or release the animal.

Southampton Police Department  Lt. Susan Ralph said they're left with no choice.

"It's hard to look at an animal that's suffering, know that possibly we could save it but we are going to have to euthanize it at this point," Ralph said.

Not everyone thinks it's necessarily a bad thing. One person we spoke to said that deer are overrunning the area and that they spread Lyme disease.

The DEC said spread of disease is part of the reason why the agency made the decision. The DEC will not comment pending litigation.