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Harlem Deer Dies of Stress While Waiting to Be Saved by State

By Dartunorro Clark | December 16, 2016 1:20pm | Updated on December 16, 2016 2:46pm
 The deer was last seen in a gated area of the park.
The deer was last seen in a gated area of the park.
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Petra Hailu

HARLEM — "Lefty" the Harlem deer died of stress Friday after a roller-coaster day that ended with state officials planning to relocate the animal upstate, authorities said.

The deer was at an East Harlem veterinarian waiting to be relocated following a back-and-forth between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo over its fate.  

State Department of Conservation officials were headed to the city Friday, where they planned to collect the one-antlered deer, which had been grazing in Harlem's Jackie Robinson Park for weeks.

The deer was originally slated to be euthanized by the city before the state intervened and announced plans to relocate it upstate, a decision Mayor Bill de Blasio did not oppose. 

“We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat," said DEC spokesman Sean Mahar. "The City did not accept our offer until just before noon, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the City’s possession.”

The city did not respond to a request for comment.

The death of the white-tailed buck followed a tense few hours in which state officials argued for it to be relocated, going against their own guidelines saying moving the deer would be expensive and oftentimes painful for the animal.

"Due to the stress caused by travel and low survival rates of relocated deer, we believe euthanasia is the most humane option," a city Parks Department spokesman said Friday. "But we defer to the state as the regulatory authority on wildlife."

Before its death, the deer had been drawing crowds over the last few weeks as it foraged in the park.