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City Plans to Kill 'Lefty,' Harlem's One-Antlered Deer

By Dartunorro Clark | December 16, 2016 9:50am
 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 —  The city is planning to kill a one-antlered deer foraging in Harlem's Jackie Robinson Park, officials said.

The animal, named "Lefty" by park neighbors, has been wandering the grounds for weeks now with crowds gathering to gawk at it.

At one point, a resident saw the deer drinking from a puddle of water from the Starbucks across the street from the park, DNAinfo New York previously reported.

But city officials have decided that euthanizing the deer is a better option than trapping and releasing it elsewhere.  

A spokeswoman from the mayor’s office said that state guidelines from the Department of Environmental Conservation prohibit capture and relocation, but she added that the state flip-flopped on its own policy and offered to help relocate the deer elsewhere in the city.

City officials decided that wasn't a good option, she said.

“The State directed the City to either release the deer in Manhattan or euthanize it. Releasing the deer in Manhattan is clearly not safe for New Yorkers or the animal, and the State's position was that euthanization was the preferred route,” the spokeswoman said via email Thursday.

“The State reversed years of their own policy and offered to help relocate the deer. The State itself has said it is not safe to relocate deer — and so the only humane and safe recourse is to euthanize the deer, and that will happen [Friday] morning.”

Last year, a deer captured in Brooklyn was set free in Staten Island, which itself has long been trying to deal with a deer population that has gotten out of control.

According to guidelines, capture of deer is usually through “the use of drive nets, drop nets, rocket nets, corral traps, clover traps, box traps, and remote chemical immobilization using dart syringes” and is “difficult and expensive.”

Costs range from $110 to $800 per deer captured, the guidelines said.

The spokeswoman also pointed to language within the guidelines, which noted that capture and relocation is often harmful to the animal and the benefits are low.

“Capture and relocation is also stressful to the animal. Injury and loss of some deer during capture and relocation efforts are common and can be significant, and the long term survival of relocated deer is often low,” the guidelines said.