All too soon, the stardom of the Harlem deer has been brought to an unfortunate end following the prolonged argument between city and states officials on its relocation procedure.
The Harlem deer had been roaming around Jackie Robinson Park for the past couple of weeks. The white-tailed deer was caught Thursday near West 155th Street, according to CNN affiliate WCBS.
After a contentious back and forth between New York City and state government officials, it was decided that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would help city officials relocate the deer upstate instead of euthanizing it on Thursday.
One-antlered Harlem deer dies immediately after life is spared https://t.co/uj8tuUiJgU he’ll save illegal aliens But not a poor deer!
— Al Coats (@Al4enzoAl) December 18, 2016
Unfortunately, the speed of state and city government was too slow for the deer’s delicate health. The deer died shortly after state DEC officials arrived on scene to relocate it.
“We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat,” DEC spokesman Sean Mahar said in a statement. “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.”
According to a tweet from the mayor’s spokesman, Eric Phillips, the deer died “while under the stress of captivity and while awaiting potential transport upstate by DEC.”
The chief of wildlife and education for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Sarah Aucoin, said the low temperatures combined with the time the deer spent both tranquilized and in captivity made its death more likely, according to WCBS.
The Harlem deer had become the latest and most unlikely casualty of the feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, an animosity that has manifested itself mostly on big issues like education, safety at homeless shelters and funding mass transit, the New York Times states.
But the tussle over the deer was extraordinary even by the standards set by Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio. All day Thursday and into Friday, the city and state issued competing and sometimes self-contradicting updates on the deer and what should be done with him.Continue reading the main story
The buck had spent two weeks attracting adoring, snack-proffering crowds at Jackie Robinson Park, where he often was seen near a chain-link fence across the street from a bodega. How he traveled to a park in the middle of a crowded Manhattan neighborhood remains unclear.
Around 4 a.m. Thursday, the buck jumped a fence into the courtyard of the Polo Grounds Towers, a public housing complex north of the park. The police were called, and they tranquilized and captured him, calling him a danger to traffic and public safety.
The city announced plans on Thursday afternoon to kill the deer, citing advice from state wildlife officials.
— 💨PhilUSB 💨™ ⚜420⚜ (@philusb) December 18, 2016
But that evening, Mr. Cuomo offered to help the city move the deer, despite the state’s policy not to issue permits to relocate deer “because acceptable release sites are not available and because the poor chances for deer survival do not warrant the risks.”
The city initially spurned the governor’s offer, saying that after the deer’s time in captivity, it would not be able to survive.
“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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on the Brian Lehrer radio show on Friday morning. “It’s a question of is it going to be a quick and merciful death versus potentially a very long painful process.”
But Mr. Cuomo then took to Twitter, posting a statement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation saying, “We want to do everything we can to save the Harlem deer.” And just before noon came word that officials from the conservation department were coming to get the deer, and that the city would not stand in the way.
After it looked like the deer might live, allies of the mayor and governor took the opportunity to throw a few jabs.
“Bureaucracy lost,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, wrote on Twitter.
“Andrew Cuomo is an idiot,” posted Bill Hyers, who managed Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign.
“There’s not much of an acclimation process there if it still has an understanding that it has to forage for its own food, it’ll be completely fine,” he said.
On Friday night, the activist group ‘Friends of Animals’ was critical of both the city and the state, saying wildlife agencies don’t handle the tranquilizing of animals very well, and that bureaucracy prevented the deer from being relocated immediately, which would have been its best chance of survival, according to CBS.
The saga of a single-antlered deer in Harlem just ended tragically https://t.co/ZOExE0J2j4
— ohanayasann (@130629130629) December 18, 2016
“I really am shocked, because I was hoping the best for the deer,” Kashana Wilson, of South Bronx, said.
It is quite regrettable that the story of the famous Harlem deer couldn’t have a happy ending. The excessive delays of state and city officials can be blamed for the death of the deer. At times is necessary to be more proactive with urgent matters. R.I.P Harlem deer!