The City of Longueuil, on Montreal's South Shore, says it has no choice but to go ahead with a controlled deer hunt in Michel-Chartrand Park next fall.

As a result of months of debating and dithering, the deer population has exploded and is now 10 times over capacity -- the park is 1.85 square kilometres in size.

Wednesday, Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier revealed the previous number of 72 deer last year increased to 108 this spring, before breeding season.

The current number is expected to be much higher now, showing a 50 per cent increase over the same period in 2021 and 238 per cent from 2017.

The park's capacity is 10-15 deer, and its natural environment is breaking down due to overpopulation.

Experts note the animals themselves are suffering from a lack of food in the limited space.

In addition, overcrowding is causing traffic accidents due to deer collisions and increased transmission of Lyme disease from infected ticks carried by the deer, among other things.

Fournier indicates it is imperative to reduce and control the deer population or the scenario will only get worse year after year.

City officials say they are ready to reduce the population through controlled hunting -- something that has already been in effect since 2003 in Longueuil's Tremblay woodlands.

They explain the hunt will be done with crossbows by a specialized firm instead of firearms as the park is in the middle of an urban area.

The meat will then be distributed to food banks.

The suggestion of capturing and moving the deer, as proposed by animal advocates, was turned down by an ethics committee from the Université de Montréal's veterinary school, saying there is a higher risk of death than rescue.

Legal proceedings have been initiated to prevent Longueuil from going ahead with its deer cull, but officials say they are sticking to their plan in the face of the park's rapid deterioration due to the deer population's exponential growth.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 20, 2022.