A small deer that was at the centre of a political tussle between New York State and New York City has died of stress after it was given a stay of execution.
The white-tailed buck was discovered on Wednesday in Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem. The people that discovered the deer thought it was part of a holiday display, according to a New York Times report. But the deer was actually a wild animal, and it quickly became the centrepiece of a bizarre political feud between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Richard Cuomo.
“The deer was brought to Animal Care & Control,” said a city spokesperson on Thursday, according to a New York Post report, about one day after it was reported to authorities. “We do not intend to release the deer back into the busy and dense borough of Manhattan.”
On Thursday afternoon, the city announced it planned to kill the deer.
Deer in Harlem - saw this guy walking around in Jackie Robinson park this morning. pic.twitter.com/eYW6N2Ufl2
— Drew Gardner (@chompaway) December 8, 2016
But the Governor’s office had a different agenda. On Thursday evening, Governor Cuomo offered to help the city remove the deer and keep it alive.
“Over the last day, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advised the City of New York that there are alternatives to euthanasia that they can consider, including relocation,” a spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo told the Post. “The City has now captured the deer, and Governor Cuomo has directed DEC to offer assistance to the City to transport and find a new habitat for it immediately.”
The city’s staff played along, but not without publicly undermining Governor Cuomo’s recommendation. “If a deer is already in a natural location and you can leave them there, then they have a chance of survival, but if not, you don’t really have another option,” said de Blasio on the Brian Lehrer Show. “It’s a question of is it going to be a quick and merciful death versus potentially a very long painful process.”
A spokesperson for the city parks department echoed the mayor’s concerns. “Because transporting deer causes them great stress, and because relocated deer have very low survival rates,” the city parks spokesperson said on Friday in a New York Times report, “the city still believes that the most humane option here is euthanasia. However, the state is the regulatory body here, and we defer to them.”
Sadly, it didn’t matter that the city decided to work with the state government because the deer never made it to greener pastures. The white-tailed buck died due to “stress from the past 24 hours” according to officials.
The deer was not euthanized, but died due to "stress from past 24 hours," says Park spox.
— John Surico (@JohnSurico) December 16, 2016
BREAKING #HarlemDeer has died while transport to upstate habitat was being arranged.
— Tony Aiello (@AielloTV) December 16, 2016
So, you might think that the political infighting would end there, but it didn’t. The state government jumped on the opportunity to use the deer’s death as a way to attack de Blasio’s administration. Governor Cuomo’s office pointed the finger directly at the city government when news about the deer’s death broke.
The STATE DEC: "the deer died in the City's possession." pic.twitter.com/Froj4JyvDW
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) December 16, 2016
— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) December 16, 2016
So now it appears that Mayor de Blasio has (deer) blood on his hands. At least the young buck has moved onto a better place, where politics hopefully aren’t so grimy. RIP little buddy.