The Harlem deer that was set to be euthanized on Thursday night received a last minute pardon from the governor.
After a bit of back-and-forth between Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, James Allen, a spokesman for the governor, released the following statement:
“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. 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 single-antlered buck wandered from Jackie Robinson Park, where it had been staying for two weeks, and onto the grounds of Polo Towers Grounds, a public-housing complex, at around 4 a.m. on Thursday.
“They were worried,” spokesman for NYPD Lt. John Grimpelsaid, The New York Times reported, “that the deer was going to get onto [Harlem River Drive]and cause damage to a holiday motorist.”
The mayor’s office said on Thursday afternoon the deer had to be euthanized becausethestate Environmental Conservation Department said relocation would only be possible if the deer was released nearthe site of capture.
“Bottom line is the options are release back into Harlem oreuthanasia,”Ken Scarlatelli, a state wildlife biologist, wrote in an email, The New York Times reported.
Natalie Grybauskas, spokeswoman for de Blasio, said the city was “backed into a corner” and was given no other option but to put the animal down citing the area’s heavy human population.
According to the state’s guidelines, “permits are not issued to relocate deer to the wild because acceptable release sites are not available and because the poor chances for deer survival do not warrant the risks.”
The East Harlem animal shelter said it received it’s orders at 7 p.m. to kill the deer, according to The New York Times. By 8 p.m., the governor’s office granted the deer, whom residents had taken to calling J.R. (for Jackie Robinson), a reprieve.
State officials said they told the city that the deer could be relocated toInwood Hill Park, 200-acresof dense woods much larger than Jackie Robinson Park.
“We want to do everything we can to save the life of the deer,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Sean Mahar said. “To that end, we have told the city that the feds or we can transport it upstate today.”
The mayor’s office shot back saying the state never made that offer, The New York Times reported.
Although admitting relocation is not recommended, the conservation department volleyed and said there is no ban on it, The New York Times reported.Grybauskas said the city was told the deer could not be transported across county lines and that relocation was never given as an option.
Cuomo and de Blasio have a history of head-butting and some see this as just another chance for Cuomo to best de Blasio on his home field, according to The New York Times, but the real winner here is J.R., the one-antlered Harlem buck.