Three trash bags, one with an animal's feet sticking out, were found off a Dix Hills dirt path, but the bodies were so decomposed that it took a veterinarian to identify them as adult raccoons, the Suffolk SPCA said Monday.
A nearby resident found the bags, each containing a raccoon, along a dirt path off Wagon Wheel Lane near Vanderbilt Motor Parkway on Monday morning, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"These raccoons didn't die and climb into a bag," Gross said. "Somebody did something to these raccoons. They didn't die of old age and end up -- three of them -- in bags."
The bodies were too decomposed to determine the cause of death, he said, so the SPCA wants the public's help in figuring out what happened.
"There may be foul play," Gross said. "We don't know that. Somebody may have seen something and we're asking them to come forward."
In recent years, most if not all the raccoons tested were free of rabies after massive rabies vaccination efforts.
Licensed trappers and authorized government agencies may take raccoons, including from residents who find them on their properties, but these animals are then killed and may be tested for rabies.
In areas with raccoon hunting seasons, licensed hunters may kill raccoons, Gross said, but they must abide by certain restrictions, such as hunting more than 500 feet from roads and houses.
The three raccoons likely died in the past year, possibly before winter, Gross said.
Calls to the Suffolk SPCA are confidential at 631-382-7722.