(p. A1) A white-tailed deer that went from being a minor celebrity in Harlem to a cause célèbre after its capture, died in captivity on Friday [December 16, 2016], moments before it was to be driven upstate and released.
The preliminary causes of death, according to a New York City parks spokesman, were stress and the day and a half that the deer spent at a city animal shelter in East Harlem. But that did not begin to tell the absurd tale of how the buck, known as J.R., for Jackie Robinson, and Lefty, because of his crumpled left antler, came to die.
The deer had become the latest and most unlikely casualty of the feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, an animosity that has manifested itself mostly on big issues like education, safety at homeless shelters and funding mass transit.
But the tussle over the deer was extraordinary even by the standards set by Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio. All day Thursday and into Friday, the city and state issued competing and sometimes self-contradicting updates on the deer and what should be done with him.
The buck had spent two weeks attracting adoring, snack-proffering crowds at Jackie Robinson Park, where he often was seen near a chain-link fence across the street from a bodega. How he traveled to a park in the middle of a crowded Manhattan neighborhood remains unclear.
. . .
After it looked like the deer might live, allies of the mayor and governor took the opportunity to throw a few jabs.
“Bureaucracy lost,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, wrote on Twitter.
“Andrew Cuomo is an idiot,” posted Bill Hyers, who managed Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign.
. . .
. . . the Harlem deer was no ordinary deer. He was beloved, a holiday-season gift to a beleaguered city, a surrogate reindeer camped out just a block from St. Nicholas Avenue.
. . .
The deer was condemned to die, then he was not, then he was, then he was not.
For a few surreal minutes Thursday night, the deer, like Schrödinger’s cat, was both alive and dead, with a city official insisting he had already been euthanized and the state insisting he had not.
Then, just before 2 p.m. with workers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Department of Agriculture gathering at the Animal Care Centers of NYC shelter on East 110th Street, a city parks spokesman announced that the deer had died.
The spokesman, Sam Biederman, blamed the state.
“Unfortunately because of the time we had to wait for D.E.C. to come and transport the deer, the deer has perished,” he told reporters, adding that the city had wanted to euthanize the deer all along. “This was an animal that was under a great deal of stress for the past 24 hours and had been tranquilized for much of that time.”
The state, naturally, blamed the delay on the city.
For the full story, see:
ANDY NEWMAN. “Condemned, Reprieved, Then a Sudden Ending.” The New York Times (Sat., DEC. 17, 2016): A1 & A18.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 16, 2016, and has the title “Harlem Deer Caught in City-State Tussle Has Died.”)