Officials in a city just south of Montreal say they will have to kill half the white-tailed deer living in a municipal green space as efforts to control their population haven’t worked.
The City of Longueuil says the deer population in Michel-Chartrand Park is twice the roughly 15 deer the park can support.
“Faced with the current situation, the city must take its responsibilities and intervene to ensure the sustainability of the forest,” said Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent in a statement.
So authorities will proceed with a cull in the coming weeks, with the meat from the animals being donated to local food banks ahead of Christmas.
Authorities say there were about 32 deer in the park as of 2017, and in the last year, emergency services received 38 calls for accidents involving deer.
An online petition opposed to the cull has been circulating, but officials say the action is needed to deal with the overpopulation, preserve the biodiversity of the park and maintain a healthy deer population.
They say that transferring the deer to another region would not be effective because the animals could find their way back to the park, the stress of moving could kill them and there is a serious risk of transmitting disease to other regions.
“It threatens the animals’ health,” said Anaïs Gasse, a wildlife biologist who works for Quebec’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines