The ecosystem of Michel-Chartrand Regional Park cannot accommodate more than a maximum of fifteen deer, say experts.
The City of Longueuil is finally maintaining its objective of reducing the deer population in the Michel-Chartrand regional park this fall, despite ongoing legal proceedings.
Last month, the City temporarily suspended the euthanasia of some 70 deer scheduled for the fall, pending a court hearing. This request was made by Me Anne-France Goldwater, who represents the organization Sauvetage Animal Rescue.
But a 50% jump in the herd population since 2021 – and a 238% increase from 2017 – convinced Mayor Catherine Fournier to go ahead.
According to the latest count carried out by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forests and Parks (MFFP) in February, the population of white-tailed deer fell from 72 in 2021 to 108 in 2022. Growth described as exponential by the mayor.
The mayoress of Longueuil Catherine Fournier and the vice-president of the executive committee Jonathan Tabarah.
The park's support capacity is a maximum of 10 to 15 deer, she recalled at a press conference on Wednesday morning, referring to the conclusions of d&x27; a consultation table set up last year.
Thus, last week, the City received the mandate to take the necessary steps with the MFFP to obtain a hunting permit allowing controlled hunting of white-tailed deer in the park.
The mayor said it was a more appropriate method than the euthanasia advocated last winter. Remember that initially, the City of Longueuil's plan was to capture and euthanize some 70 deer in January or February 2022, before the calving period in the spring. However, technical problems limiting the effectiveness of the operation had led to its postponement until the fall.
We ensure better efficiency of the operation with a method which has proven itself, declared Catherine Fournier, who nevertheless recognizes that this controlled hunt constitutes a short-term solution.
We do not want to return to this scenario year after year, has she assured, explaining that the City intends to evaluate several methods of long-term population control, such as sterilization.
The details of this response plan, including the number of hunters authorized and the hunting sessions permitted, will be communicated later.
The mayor nevertheless indicated that this intervention plan will involve the closure of the park for a certain period of time, evoking hunting periods of at least two or three days. She noted that a euthanasia operation would have required a longer closure.
The municipal councilor for the district of Michel-Chartrand park and vice-president of the executive committee of the City of Longueuil, Jonathan Tabarah, agrees with the mayor.
Faced with the overcrowding of the park, euthanasia can no longer work. It's a slow method, and we can't wait any longer, he defends himself during an interview on the show Le 15-18, on ICI Première.< /p>
So currently, hunting is the best method. It is practiced in nearby nature parks, he added. However, he wants to reassure: it will be supervised by experts and well controlled and supervised by the City, he said.
Mr. Tabarah justified this action plan by the need to preserve the ecological balance of the park.
There are groups [of animals] that [the deer feed on] and [that] contribute to overpopulation. And this harms the ecosystem enormously, he said.
We cannot let the park deteriorate, our role is to protect its ecological balance, to he continued.
He recalled that the City must already invest millions of dollars in reforestation to repair the damage caused by the overpopulation of deer and the emerald borer. ash. If the deer population is not controlled, you cannot do such extensive reforestation.
“If we don't do something quickly, it’s a shame, but we'll have no more parks. »
— Jonathan Tabarah, municipal councilor for the Michel-Chartrand park district and vice-president of the executive committee of the City of Longueuil
The councilor mentioned other risks related to overcrowding in the regional park, including the spread of Lyme disease by ticks and the increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
The deer themselves suffer from the fact that there is not enough food in the park and therefore have to go outside, at the risk of collisions, he illustrated.
The director general of Rescue Animal, Eric Dussault, denounces an “archaic” decision and calls on the City of Longueuil to “open its horizons”.
The director general of the Rescue Animal organization, Eric Dussault, says he is bitter about the decision of the City of Longueuil.
He denounces the City's stubbornness in wanting to rush things, while the case is still before the courts.
If he considers the option of a controlled hunt to be more ethical and responsible than euthanasia by a veterinarian, he describes both methods as archaic.
The organization he heads opposes the slaughter of deer and proposes other more humanitarian solutions, such as the construction of an enclosure at the #x27; inside the park or the relocation of part of the livestock.
However, Jonathan Tabarah recalls that the ethics committee of the University of Montreal had deemed the travel protocol proposed by Rescue Animal in 2021 too risky.
Moving livestock from one region to another not only creates risks in terms of animal suffering, but also in terms of the transmission of Lyme disease ], declared the vice-president of the executive committee of the City of Longueuil.
He also defended controlled hunting as a method of population control, noting that it is the method advocated in the majority, if not all of Sépaq's parks.