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Animal rights activists challenge the Longueuil deer cull in court


Animal rights advocates pleaded at the Longueuil courthouse Wednesday morning to halt the culling of more than 60 deer in the city's Michel-Chartrand Park.

The City of Longueuil was ready to put down the deer this fall, claiming there wasn't enough food in the park to sustain their growing population.

But the lawsuit from the Sauvetage Animal Rescue group put the project to a stop, at least until now.

"The argument I’m bringing before the judge today is that there's no need and no urgency to kill the herd of deer [...] when we have so many other plans to propose to save these beautiful animals," said Anne-France Goldwater, a lawyer representing animal rights activists.

She argued for an extension of the safeguard order that the court issued earlier in the spring.

Meanwhile, the city's experts say the deer cannot be relocated into the wild since their domestication in Longueuil made them too vulnerable to predators. Some residents have also complained that the deer jump over the park's fence and eat cedar trees on the city streets.

Still, the Montreal SPCA animal rights group, acting as an intervenor in the case, will also argue that the government should consider the deer's sentient nature and welfare.

As the Civil Code of Quebec considers animals to be sentient beings, the SPCA believes the deer's interest in staying alive should be taken into account.

According to the organization, the City of Longueuil's bow-and-arrow culling method is "problematic."

"Bow hunting frequently causes wounds that do not kill the target animal instantly, such that the time to death can be prolonged and the animal remains conscious while dying from massive blood loss," the Montreal SPCA said in a press release on Tuesday.

Non-lethal population control methods such as sterilization or chemical contraception should be prioritized, the group added.

"Lethal methods should only be considered as a last resort."

Should the judge approve the extension, the City of Longueuil will not be able to execute its plan until next year.

With files from CTV Montreal's Stéphane Giroux Top Stories

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