Disturbing discovery
The wicker basket was discovered on Islip Beach last week.

Photo provided by SPCA

Disturbing discovery


ISLIP—Known as an idyllic family respite from the summer heat, a discovery at Islip Beach managed to mar that image for at least a little while when six decapitated chickens were found in a wicker basket near the shoreline. A 911 call at 10:18 a.m. brought Suffolk County Police to investigate on Thursday, June 21.  The chickens were left in a wicker basket covered with a blue fabric and surrounded with grain, fruit and candles just south of the guard booth.

Suffolk County SPCA received a call about the discovery from Suffolk County Police Department.

Chief Roy Gross of SPCA said though it was a disturbing find, it’s not all that unusual. Animals such as chickens and goats in that condition have been found in many other areas of Suffolk County, including other sections of Islip and in Great River. “It’s horrific, barbaric,” he remarked. “This is being investigated as an act of animal cruelty.”  

Gross said he consulted with a renowned expert who confirmed that the animal remains were most likely a ritualistic sacrifice or offering to Yemaya, the Goddess of the Ocean, and involves dismemberment of chickens, a practice associated with the rituals of the Caribbean-based Santeria religion.

“These acts are usually done for good fortune or for protection before making a criminal act,” he said.

Caroline Smith, a spokesperson for Islip Town, noted that the beach is closed off with a fence at night. “This appears to be a one-time incident whereupon the act took place at another location and the remains of the chickens were discarded at the beach,” she added.

In another previous incident in a wooded area of Great River, Gross said a severed animal tongue was nailed to a tree with an envelope containing six fish hooks, each one pierced into a piece of paper bearing the name of a person.  Gross said it was most likely used as a warning. “This is just not acceptable,” he added. 

A $1,000 reward is being offered by the Suffolk County SPCA for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this illegal, inhumane act. The crime is a misdemeanor and could result in a $1,000 fine or a year in prison.

Gross said that animal cruelty would not be tolerated in Suffolk County.  If you witness any incident of animal cruelty or neglect, contact the Suffolk County SPCA at (631) 382-7722.  All calls will be kept confidential.