Investigation Sought Over East Hampton Deer Sterilizations

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An animal rights activist who has been a strident critic of East Hampton Village’s effort to surgically sterilize deer says that a complaint he filed over the program has been referred to the state Attorney General’s office by another state agency.

Dell Cullum, an photographer and member of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, said that a complaint he filed with the state’s Education Department about the certifications of the veterinarians conducting the sterilizations was referred by that agency to the criminal investigations bureau of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, according to a brief letter he received earlier this month.

“The complaint was against … all the vets involved,” Mr. Cullum said last week. “My contention was that they were not licensed by the state of New York. It was something I felt needed to be checked into.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney General said early this week that his office is not yet aware of the case having been referred to them and that no criminal investigation is currently underway.

The sterilizations were conducted by veterinarians working for White Buffalo Inc,, a Connecticut-based company specializing in deer population control.

The company’s owner, Tony DiNicola, acknowledged that some of the veterinarians who worked on the project in East Hampton were not specifically licensed in the state but said that they were working as consultants with specialized expertise to a state-licensed veterinarian.

“We believe they fall under the exemption of being here as consulting authorities,” Mr. DiNicola said. “This is a research project, really, and if we see there’s value to people being involved, we bring them in.”

Mr. DiNicola said that the two out-of-state veterinarians employed for the sterilization effort were expert in emergency animal medicine, should complications arise, and another from Colorado has conducted thousands of large-animal sterilization surgeries.

Mr. DiNicola also challenged claims by Mr. Cullum that the surgeries were done in unsanitary conditions in a village maintenance garage. Surgeries on large animals are often conducted in barnyards or stables, he noted, and conditions in East Hampton were cleaner and more sanitary than is typical in large animal medicine.

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