Four deer carcasses were removed from the railroad tracks in East Quogue on Saturday, three days after being spotted from an overpass by a hamlet resident, but it remains unclear how the animals—one adult and three fawns—ended up where they did.
Representatives of the Long Island Rail Road sent out a crew to remove the four bodies, each of which appeared to have been neatly placed between the rails—but low enough so that they were not struck by passing trains—a day after being alerted to the situation.
“Our people are not in a position to make any conclusive determination,” Salvatore Arena, a spokesman for the LIRR, wrote in an email on Monday when asked if any of the responding crew members could speculate on how the deer died.
Aside from being deceased, none of the deer lying across the tracks appeared to have suffered any physical injuries; no gunshot or arrow wounds were observed.
Maria Daddino, who writes the East Quogue community column, “From Fourth Neck,” for The Press, said she spotted the four dead deer lying on the tracks from the overpass on Emmett Drive and drew a different conclusion. All four carcasses were spaced within a few hundred feet of each another.
“I think someone shot them and laid them there,” she said. “I was awakened over the weekend—and I told this to the police—by gunshots. They were loud enough that I heard them, and my dog jumped out of bed and was very upset.
“If a train hit them, they would have been thrown,” she pointed out.
Christian Killoran, president of Hunters For Deer, a Long Island-based nonprofit group that advocates for the rights of licensed hunters, speculated that the animals—whom he did not observe—might have starved to death and happened to end up on the tracks.
“It may have been from starvation,” Mr. Killoran wrote in an email. “The winter killed a lot of deer, as there was not enough food to provide sustenance for them with the winter cover.”
Mr. Killoran also pointed out that is not unheard of for a group of deer—especially younger ones—to die in such a fashion. “The family stays together and then when it is not led by the mother doe, they simply pass without guidance,” he said. “It’s really sad.”
Still, Ms. Daddino thinks otherwise.
“They couldn’t have fallen so precisely on the tracks,” said Ms. Daddino, who did not venture into the woods and onto the tracks. “If a deer starves, it’s going to fall any old place, not in a straight line.”
She also said she immediately contacted the Southampton Town Police on a non-emergency number to alert them about the situation. Town Police, however, said they do not have a record of Ms. Daddino’s call.
The LIRR, according to Mr. Arena, does not have a record of being notified by the police about the possible obstruction, which is protocol in such situations.
In instances when a blockage could potentially impede or derail a moving train, Mr. Arena said passersby should immediately contact local police who, in turn, should share such information with both the LIRR and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police.
Mr. Arena said he could not immediately recall a similar situation in which so many dead deer were found in such proximity to one another either on or near the railroad tracks.
“In all likelihood, at some point in the past, yes,” he said, when asked if such an incident has occurred before. “Long Island was quite rural at one time. However, these days it is quite unusual—and perplexing, too.”