Photo sent by the DEC to the Reeve family showing a deer captured by the DEC in Calverton.

State environmental conservation officers have taken possession of a three-point buck the agency says may be responsible for the attack and injury of Riverhead resident John Reeve last week.

Reeve was attacked by a buck on his property on Twomey Avenue just off Manor Road in Calverton last Thursday. The buck rammed the 83-year-old from behind and knocked him to the ground. The deer would not let up, despite efforts by several Good Samaritans who tried to fend off the animal. Reeve suffered a broken hip in the incident and was hospitalized at Peconic Bay Medical Center, where he had partial hip replacement surgery on Friday. He is currently in rehab at the WestHampton Care Center, his daughter Debbie Masterson of Calverton said..

The State DEC officers looked into reports of “an unusually friendly deer seen in the vicinity of the attack,” a DEC spokesperson said. Their investigation determined that several residents in the area had fed the deer in question, which made it “domesticated and not fearful of humans,” the DEC said. They collected evidence, unspecified by the statement, that led to the conclusion that the deer was “very likely” the same buck that attacked Reeve.

Officers found the buck, sedated him and taken by a wildlife rehabilitator for evaluation by DEC’s wildlife staff.

Trauma team doctors have told Reeve that his injury was the third deer attack injury they’d seen in the past month, he said. A spokesperson for Peconic Bay Medical Center could not confirm that because the hospital doesn’t track the cause of every injury treated at the facility.

The DEC does not have any information about other deer attacks, its spokesperson said.

The agency cautions residents against feeding wildlife.

“Although intentions are often good, feeding wildlife can interfere with the natural healthy balance of wildlife populations and alter behaviors in potentially dangerous ways,” DEC said in a statement.

“As wild animals are fed they become used to the presence of people and can become more aggressive towards each other and towards humans as they lose wariness. Feeding animals can also create nuisance issues with humans, concentrate animals which can spread disease more readily, and can face malnutrition when fed the wrong diet.”

More information is available on the DEC’s website.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.