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Staten Island Deer Killed in New Jersey Over Fear of Mad Cow-Like Disease

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 24, 2017 2:34pm | Updated on May 25, 2017 10:26am
 A deer from Staten Island was euthanized after it was found in Jersey City.
A deer from Staten Island was euthanized after it was found in Jersey City.
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DNAInfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — A juvenile deer from Staten Island that somehow made its way to Jersey City was killed Tuesday by New Jersey state officials who said they feared it might have a type of mad cow disease.

The 1-year-old male deer was spotted Tuesday morning walking in the parking lot of Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, NJ.com reported.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection captured the deer, but couldn't immediately identify where he came from so euthanized it out of fear he might be infected with chronic wasting disease, a form of mad cow disease only found in deer, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

"Out of an abundance of caution and concern the deer was ultimately euthanized," said Caryn Shinske, spokeswoman for the NJ DEP. "The only way to test a deer for chronic wasting disease is to euthanize it."

The agency has not gotten test results back yet to see if the deer had the disease or not.

Workers for the DEP later found a tag on the deer that showed it was part of New York City's $2 million effort to neuter male deer in Staten Island to help curb the population, Shinske said.

A spokeswoman for the New York City Parks Department said the deer likely either swam, or jumped through construction on the Bayonne Bridge to get to Jersey City.

Chronic wasting disease hasn't been found in New York State since 2005, when five white-tailed deer from breeding facilities in Oneida County were confirmed to have it, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. No deer in New Jersey have been confirmed to have it, according to the NJ DEP.

The Parks Department haven't identified any deer in the borough with chronic wasting disease and a spokeswoman said they "have no reason to believe it's an issue here."

The city's plan to neuter white-tailed deer started last year with a goal of reducing the population by 10 percent to 30 percent. They have performed vasectomies on 642 adults and 78 fawns since it started.

Parks estimates about 2,000 deer live on Staten Island.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the plan has lead to a 31 percent drop in deer-related car crashes so far this year.

"Maybe the deer are not happy about our particular strategic approach," de Blasio previously said. "But that's an example where some of these policies are really working for Staten Island."

This isn't the first time a deer from Staten Island found its way outside of the borough.

In 2015, a deer the Parks Department believed originated in Staten Island was spotted at a construction site in Coney Island.

The deer was sedated and set free in Staten Island, causing an outcry by Borough President James Oddo that the borough was once again being treated as the city's dumping ground.

Since they started the sterilization program last year, Parks said they aren't aware of any other deer who made their way out of Staten Island.