Hundreds protest deer cull planned for Longueuil park

·2 min read

Several hundred people marched in Longueuil on Saturday to protest the city's plan to kill roughly 15 white-tail deer currently inhabiting Michel-Chartrand park.

The protest was in addition to the more than 32,000 petition signatures against the city's plan to control the overpopulation of deer in the slightly wooded city park.

Several of the protesters said the deer are beloved by local residents, and seeing them provides a much-needed bright spot during a tough year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city says the park's ecosystem is deteriorating because of the estimated 32 deer that live there, so half the herd must be culled and the meat will be donated to local food banks.

But Geneviève Soza-Florent says the city has not tried hard enough to find alternative solutions, so she launched the petition and organized Saturday's demonstration.

She is calling on people to "go talk to the city, go talk to the ministry to say that there are other solutions."

Sorza-Forent grew up in Longueuil and says on her petition that "we should not only ask ourselves what will happen to these deer, but rather try to understand why we have reached this problem in order to find long-term solutions."

Farms, zoos and an animal sanctuary in the Eastern Townships have all offered to take the deer alive. Many protestors are urging Longueuil officials to take up the offer.

The city has warned that the stress of moving the animals could kill some of them, but many of the protesters say that's better than not giving them a chance at all.

Longueuil says that it has evaluated all possible solutions and consulted experts on the issue, but culling is the best option in this case.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The park is about two square kilometres in size and there is little protected green space in the surrounding neighbourhoods for the herd to roam, said Alain Branchaud, the executive director of the Quebec branch of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

He said long-term solutions are needed in the future, but culling is likely best for now.

"The resources are no longer sufficient to support a population of around 30 white-tailed deer," said Branchaud.

"On average, it is believed that one square kilometre can support about five white-tailed deer."

While some are protesting, other residents have complained about the deer that are damaging private landscaping and getting hit by cars around the park. In 2019, 38 such collisions were reported in Longueuil.