MONTREAL — A Quebec lawyer will ask the Superior Court next month to block a cull of white-tailed deer living in a suburban park south of Montreal and approve an alternative plan to relocate them.
Anne-France Goldwater, a lawyer and animal-rights activist who has previously voiced her opposition to the City of Longueuil's plan to capture and kill the animals, said Wednesday she has filed a court petition on behalf of herself, the wildlife rescue organization Sauvetage Animal Rescue and a local animal-rights activist.
Goldwater is asking the court to prevent Quebec's Wildlife Department and the city from killing the deer — calling it an "unnecessary and cruel slaughter" — until the case is heard on its merits.
She also wants the court to approve a plan for rescue organization volunteers to trap the deer, sterilize them and ultimately move those fit for travel to wildlife sanctuaries or to municipalities that have offered land where the deer can be relocated.
Goldwater said the offer also includes free followup care of the deer for up to 10 years. The relocation would be paid for through donations and fundraising at no cost to taxpayers, Goldwater said.
"No plan is perfect, and a deer in the wild always lives with the risk they may be munched upon by a predator," she said in an interview. "But they would have a fighting chance to be alive."
Last November, Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier said the city would kill all but about 15 of the roughly 70 deer living there in order to protect the Michel Chartrand Park. A committee created to propose ways of protecting the park found the current population was more than five times the number of animals it could support.
The committee's report concluded the park's natural areas were "so degraded they could no longer regenerate" due to factors including emerald ash borer infestations, invasive plant species, visitors not respecting park rules and the large number of deer stripping vegetation.
It considered relocation or sterilization or birth control, but concluded the only viable short-term solution was to slaughter all but the minimum 10 to 15 animals. Last year, a city spokesman said the cull would likely take place in the fall.
Longueuil's previous administration had planned to cull the deer in the fall of 2020, but the city relented after a strong backlash that included a petition, a protest and threats against the former mayor. At that time, the park's deer population was pegged at around 30.
Goldwater says the case is expected before a judge in Longueuil on June 15.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press