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State Makes Last-Minute Push to Save Deer Sentenced to Death by City

By Dartunorro Clark | December 16, 2016 11:45am
 Governor Andrew Cuomo wants the deer relocated. The mayor wants it humanely killed.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wants the deer relocated. The mayor wants it humanely killed.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

HARLEM — The state is making a last-minute pitch to save a Harlem deer sentenced to death by the city.

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation issued a statement Friday urging the city to let it save the one-antlered deer spotted in Harlem's Jackie Robinson park in recent weeks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking on WNYC's "Ask The Mayor" just minutes before the statement was issued Friday, said the city plans to euthanize the animal.

"We want to do everything we can to save the life of the deer," the state's spokesman said.

"To that end, we have told the city that the feds or we can transport it upstate today."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Thursday night directing state agencies to help the city trap and release the deer — a reversal of the state's own policy clearly sating that removal is expensive and oftentimes painful for the animal. 

De Blasio said on the radio segment that relocation is "inhumane" and creates "extended pain."

City officials have made it clear that the deer has no place in the densely packed area or any other part of the city. 

"A deer does not belong in the middle of an urban neighborhood," de Blasio said Friday morning. 

A city spokeswoman reaffirmed the city's commitment to euthanizing the deer, noting the dangers of relocation or having it remain in the city, and pointed to a statement by the city's chief wildlife expert. 

Sarah Aucoin, the chief of wildlife and education at the city Department of Parks and Recreation, said the decision was not taken lightly, "but considering all of these factors, and with our top priorities being human safety and the most humane treatment of this deer, we think this is the best, safest, and most humane course of action.”

She said, "disorientation, trauma, injury and death are all possible results of relocating, and relocated deer have very low long-term survival rates.

"The extraordinarily low temperatures in our area combined with the time spent tranquilized and held in captivity would have made injury or death all the more likely."

Residents and animal lovers also took to social media to urge the mayor to save the deer.

— With additional reporting by Jeff Mays and Nicole Levy