A white-tailed deer found wandering the streets of Harlem died Friday afternoon while awaiting transportation upstate.
The deer, which the city wanted to euthanize but the state sought to release in Manhattan or relocate against its own guidelines, had been in city custody a day earlier. It was sedated at the time of death, a mayoral spokeswoman said.
In the 24 hours since its capture by the NYPD, the animal became something of a political football between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
De Blasio pointed to veterinary best practice and state directives barring deer captured in urban settings from being relocated, because a change of venue is inhumane and damaging to the animal.
“You take, like any other creature that is used to a certain environment. You put them in a new environment even in nature. It’s traumatizing. It creates all sorts of extended pain and usually leads to death,” de Blasio said Friday on his weekly #AskTheMayor show on WNYC radio.
State Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Sean Mahar said in a statement Friday, “We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat. The city did not accept our offer until just before noon today, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the city’s possession.”