Deer in the political headlights

| 16 Dec 2016 | 04:34

The Harlem deer unwittingly ensnared in the ongoing feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio has died, apparently of stress-related causes, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The deer had shown up in Jackie Robinson Park, in Hamilton Heights, a few weeks ago. The presence of the one-antlered ruminant within the 13-acre urban park charmed and intrigued nearby residents.

But yesterday the deer bolted to a nearby housing project, where city officials captured him, citing a threat to public safety, and, citing public safety concerns, were going to euthanize him.

“Obviously a deer does not belong in the middle of an urban neighborhood, in the middle of a housing authority development,” de Blasio said during his weekly appearance on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show on Friday morning. “There was danger if that deer went out on the streets — it was danger that it could have been a car crash. You could have had numerous human beings harmed in addition to the deer. So, the protocol as I understand it from folks who are the animal experts is ... the deer cannot be left where they are. It could not be left in the streets of Harlem. I’m sorry, that’s just absolutely unacceptable and dangerous. They have to be removed.”

The mayor said that since the deer was in an urban environment, rather than in its more natural habitat, “you don’t really have an option.”

Late Friday morning, however, Cuomo said the state would take responsibility for the deer. “We want to do everything we can to save the Harlem deer,” the governor said on his Twitter account. “We have told the city that the feds or we can transport it upstate today.”

Just before 1 p.m. state officials were working with federal officials to find “safe transport” of the deer to an upstate habitat, a DEC spokesman said.

The deer was apparently still in city custody when it perished.

“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, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the City’s possession,” a statement from a department spokesman said.