According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, they face up to $1,700 in fines after posting photos of them posing with the live yearling whitetail deer 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."
One of the men, 18-year-old George Salzmann, of Calverton, who is holding the deer in the pictures, spoke to Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne on Thursday. He insists they were just trying to help two different deer that they spotted on two different occasions stuck in a fence. He says in one case, they got deer unstuck and let it go.
KRISTIN THORNE WILL HAVE THE FULL STORY TONIGHT ON EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 5.
And in the other, they put it in their truck, brought it home, cleaned its face and let it go, which is the video and pictures that were posted.
"Probably wasn't a good idea to take pictures and make a big deal out of it," he said. "At the end of the day, I think I was doing a good deed."
Salzmann admits he is not a veterinarian and probably shouldn't have tried to help. But he insists that is all that happened, and adds that they shouldn't have taken pictures with beers, but they weren't drunk.
Authorities were alerted about the photos on October 31.
"Deer are wild animals and they shouldn't be handled by people," DEC Lieutenant Frank Carbone said. "It stresses the deer, and it's dangerous for the people."
The next day, environmental conservation officers recognized Salzmann and three friends at a local business in Calverton and questioned them about the deer.
Authorities said Salzmann's friends, 19-year-old Conor Lingerfelt, of Jamesport; 20-year-old Joseph Sacchitello, of Riverhead; and 20-year-old Anthony Infantolino, Wading River, were all involved with the illegal capture of the second deer.
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.
In both cases deer were not hurt, but officials say they could have easily died from that sort of shock.
Eyewitness News is told at least one young man got a cut lip trying to capture the deer.
The young men are to appear at Riverhead Justice Court on Nov. 27.
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.