Animal rights activists want to take Longueuil, Quebec to court over deer cull

Animal rights activists have filed a lawsuit against the City of Longueuil and the Quebec government for what they are calling an "unnecessary and cruel slaughter" to control the deer population at Michel-Chartrand Park in the borough of Le Vieux-Longueuil.

The lawsuit is being led by Sauvetage Animal Rescue, alongside a local resident and lawyer Anne-France Goldwater.

"There are organizations like our friends at the wildlife protection group Sauvetage Animal Rescue who have developed and continue to develop expertise in order to save these animals," said Goldwater. "There are municipalities that have come forward and are willing to receive many of these animals on vast tracts of protected land."

Goldwater is accusing the City of Longueuil of years of "inaction," saying current solutions proposed "are not without some risk to the deer but are certainly better than a mass slaughter."

Last November, Longueuil, one of Quebec's largest cities, returned to its original plan to cull the deer population at Michel-Chartrand Park by euthanizing the excess population and donating the meat to local food banks.

The recommendation was made as part of a report by a committee in charge of analyzing the best way to sustain the park's overall ecosystem.

It was composed of local residents, environmental organizations, as well as university and governmental experts.

Some of the issues discovered by the committee include "trees devastated by the emerald ash borer, proliferation of invasive exotic species, overpopulation of [malnourished] deer and those consequences on the regeneration of the flora," it said.

Sauvetage Animal Rescue is now proposing a new plan to treat the deer.

This would include:

  • Trapping and treating them for parasites before evaluating their health for travel;
  • Neutering them;
  • Transporting and releasing the ones cleared for travel to new locations;
  • Providing long-term veterinary care and feeding them.

"Our group has been encouraging the city and the ministry to work together to find a humane solution for more than two years now," said Éric Dussault, general manager of Sauvetage Animal Rescue. "We have always been ready to help with our expertise and our equipment, but unfortunately, a certain administrative burden has slowed us down."

Goldwater is now petitioning the Quebec Superior Court to force the Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks (MFFP) and the City of Longueuil to avoid euthanizing any deer until the case is heard.

She says she also wants the governments to work with experts "who have a humane alternative plan to culling available," while complying with Quebec’s Animal Welfare and Safety Act.

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