Eleven porcupines recently found clubbed to death in Albany and Schoharie counties have alarmed elected officials.
Porcupines aren’t the cuddliest animals on earth; they’re not on any endangered species list, and many suburbanites regard them as nuisances that trash gardens and chew on wooden porch and deck beams. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple is concerned because there’s a correlation between animal abuse and violence against other people.
Apple has the names of eight teenagers suspected of killing the porcupines. The sheriff tells Newschannel 13 the group of kids have been driving along rural roads of Albany County, targeting porcupines and savagely killing them. "I don't have a special love for porcupines. But I think it's pretty sadistic for a group of kids to be driving around in a car and find a porcupine on the side of the street, get out, pick up a big stick and club it to death."
New York State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco shares Apple's concern. "This is a classic illustration of what the FBI has done in moving animal abuse up to an 'A' level, as an indicator that individuals who do this type of abuse to any animal, could be a dog, could be a cat, could be a horse, could be a cow, could be a woodchuck or a porcupine, a nuisance animal, would go on to hurt human beings. Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Dahmer, the Columbine kids, all had a history of abusing animals like this, before they went on to hurt human beings. So this is a public safety issue."
A state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman confirmed that porcupines aren't protected wildlife but told the Associated Press that the agency doesn't condone wanton killing of animals. Apple was alerted to the deaths by a letter he received from a resident of the area where the porcupines were found.
Apple and Tedisco agree a new law is needed. "We need a statewide registry of animal abusers, which include psychological evaluation and treatment. Clearly, the individuals who perpetrated this abuse of this animal need some psychological treatment and help. We have to make sure that this type of abuse and wild behavior and savagery doesn't take place."
Albany Assemblyman John McDonald is sponsoring a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal that would expand the existing aggravated cruelty law to cover intentional acts of extreme cruelty to wildlife as well as companion animals. McDonald says the bill has been around for a year and the porcupine might well serve as a "poster animal" that gets the legislation passed.