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Staten Island Man is City’s First Ever Arrest for Deer Poaching


03.20.15 Liam Mathews

Since 2013, people have been killing deer on Staten Island with bows and arrows. The poachers have been beheading the deer for trophies and leaving the carcasses behind. Roughly two dozen bucks have been found. The poaching problem has gotten so bad that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has dispatched a three officer team to catch the poachers. On November 11, Staten Island Advance reported Wednesday, they started cracking down. The team caught David Oakes, of the Mariner’s Harbor neighborhood, carrying a bow and arrow and dressed in camouflage in a wooded park behind a playground.

He was setting up bait to lure the deer, and he told the officers that he had killed an 8-point buck the previous year in the same spot.

Poaching happens in New York City, but usually with fish. Oakes is the first person ever charged with deer poaching in the city, and faces up to a year in jail. He will appear in Stapleton Criminal Court on Friday.

“Nobody has ever seen anything like it in New York City,” Officer Edward J. Piwko, the DEC officer who led the investigation, told the Post.

“This guy was the worst kind of poacher. He didn’t eat them. He would just cut their heads off.”

The DEC’s yearlong investigation involved use of night vision goggles, thermal imaging and overnight stakeouts to catch the predator. Oakes is thought to be just one of several poachers operating on the island, so tips about others should be directed to Officer Piwko at 718-979-0610.

Staten Island’s deer population has exploded since 2008, according to the Post, rising from just 24 to over 800 in that time. They often swim across Arthur Kill, the strait between Staten Island and New Jersey, to reach the island.

(Photo: Sid Dinsay)