Longueuil police arrest man for alleged threats over local deer cull plan

LONGUEUIL, Que. — Police in Longueuil, Que., say they arrested a man Tuesday in connection with threats against the city's mayor and other local elected officials over a plan to cull white-tailed deer in a municipal park.

A man in his 20s from outside Longueuil, which is just south of Montreal, has been released under conditions, and a report has been sent to the Crown, the police force said in a statement Wednesday.

In recent days, threats have been made against Mayor Sylvie Parent and others over a plan to capture and kill about half of the roughly 30 white-tailed deer in Michel-Chartrand Park.

The deer population, last evaluated in 2017, is about twice what the park can support, and city officials say action is necessary to preserve the area's biodiversity while maintaining a healthy deer population.

The plan has faced fierce opposition, including an online petition and a protest on Saturday calling for the animals to be moved rather than killed. A zoo has offered to take in the deer, and a local animal rescue company has offered to trap, sedate, and transport the animals to a new home.

But in a meeting that spilled into early Wednesday, Longueuil's city council approved the deer cull, which would see the meat from the animals donated to local food banks. The city's director general noted during the meeting that the plan was proposed by the province, which oversees deer management. He said the city could revisit the issue if provincial authorities decide to refine the plan.

The city has been working with the province's Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, and officials have said moving the deer to another region wouldn't be effective because they could find their way back to the park.

The stress of moving could kill the deer, they add, and there is a serious risk of transmitting disease to other regions. 

Longueuil police said in their statement they are investigating two other cases of alleged threats linked to the deer cull. They reminded citizens that any type of threat — over the phone, in writing or on social media — can lead to criminal charges.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press