Harlem’s One-Antlered Deer Gets Last-Minute Stay on Execution — Then Dies on the Way to Freedom

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For a brief moment today, it looked like the life of a lovelorn, one-antlered Harlem deer who had become an internet celebrity would be spared after a last-minute intervention from the Cuomo administration in plans by New York City to euthanize it.

The single white-tailed buck that sort of resembled a unicorn took up residence earlier this month in Jackie Robinson Park in West Harlem. His fan base grew quickly, and neighborhood residents worried about the little guy in the city. But the Parks Department had assured folks that as long as he was physically healthy and wasn’t a threat to humans or motorists, there was little they could do: There’s a ban on capturing and relocating deer in New York State, unless it’s for scientific purposes.

So the legend of the one-antlered deer grew, until he wandered onto the grounds of a nearby public-housing complex early Thursday morning, and was captured. This left the city with two options: Release the deer back into Harlem, or euthanize him. The de Blasio administration opted for the latter.

The city, however, didn’t make the decision lightly, said Sarah Aucoin, the chief of wildlife and education at the Parks Department, in a statement. It didn’t make sense to release the deer back into the middle of Harlem. And, besides the ban, tranquilizing and trapping the animal and delivering him elsewhere is risky, especially given the very low temperatures. “Considering all of these factors,” Aucoin said, “and with our top priorities being human safety and the most humane treatment of this deer, we think this is the best, safest, and most humane course of action.”

But then word traveled all the way to Albany about the deer’s fate. An apparent savior materialized: New York governor and de Blasio frenemy Andrew Cuomo.

The Times has a very detailed breakdown of the snippy bureaucratic back-and-forth that commenced between New York City and New York State over the protocol and plan for dealing with the one-antlered deer.

Even as this was playing out, sources told the Daily News that veterinarians in Harlem were refusing to euthanize the deer, and the city was going to have to bring in an undercover cop to finish the job.

But then, apparent resolution:

Officials with the state’s Department of Environmental Conversation said they would retrieve the deer Friday from the city and bring him to upstate New York. The city responded with passive-aggressive acquiescence:

And de Blasio’s spokesman:

The state insisted that all was well …

And even selected a vehicle for the now-famous ungulate …

But it was not to be.

Harlem’s Deer Gets Last-Minute Stay on Execution, Then Dies