The Suffolk County SPCA is investigating the Sunday discovery of what possibly is the tongue of a large animal as part of a series of ritualistic animal killings.

The animal protection group said Wednesday that the "severely decomposed part of an animal," found bound to a tree in a wooded area of Central Islip, is the fourth such discovery since June 24.

It was found in a lot on Wilson Boulevard, hanging from a tree and wrapped in a black shirt and with black yarn, which was screwed to the tree, according to a news release.

SPCA Chief Roy Gross said last Thursday that his agency's $1,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction in the case is being matched by the The New York State Humane Society.

The two agencies also have collaborated on a wanted poster being distributed on Long Island.

"Unjustifiably slaughtering an animal is a crime and will not be tolerated," Gross said.

Last Thursday, the SPCA said it found the heads of three chickens inside two plastic grocery bags on the railroad tracks near Hubbard Avenue in Riverhead.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

On June 24, the carcasses of three beheaded adult goats were found on the Otis Pike Preserve in Riverhead on Line Road near Pole No. 5. Their heads were found nearby, along with fruits and vegetables, according to Gross.

Less than a week later, the SPCA found a dead rooster nailed to a tree in Islip, at the intersection of Spur Drive South and Freeman Avenue. Police said the rooster's tongue and eyes were cut out and a candle was found nearby.

Gross said Friday he doesn't believe the same group is responsible for all three animal killings this summer, since they are "too widespread." But he said an expert working with the SPCA believes the killings are connected to ritualistic or religious practices.

Gross said ritualistic animal killings happen throughout the year, but they spike in the spring and summer in accordance with certain groups' ceremonies.

The agency also said Wednesday that it is looking for people interested in becoming volunteer humane investigators because of a surge in animal cruelty cases, specifically ritualistic killings.

Investigators must pass a background check and have a valid driver's license. They will receive training in areas such as animal cruelty laws, penal law, criminal procedure law, agriculture and markets law, report writing and courtroom testimony.

Anyone interested in becoming an investigator or with information on the recent rash of ritualistic animal killings can call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722. All calls will be kept confidential.