MONTREAL -- Protesters gathered in a city south of Montreal today to urge their elected officials to reconsider a plan to cull half the deer in a local park.

Many in the crowd urged Longueuil city officials to take up the offer of a zoo that has offered to give the animals a new home instead of killing them and donating the meat to a food bank.

City officials say there are roughly twice as many deer living in Michel-Chartrand Park as there should be, and the 30 or so animals are threatening the area's biodiversity and increasing the risk of accidents.

But their plan to capture and euthanize half the herd has been met with opposition, including a petition with more than 32,000 signatures and at least one threat against the city's mayor.

Several of the protesters said the deer are beloved by local residents, and seeing them provides a much-needed bright spot during a tough year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the city has warned the stress of moving the animals could kill some of them, many of the protesters say that's better than not giving them a chance at all.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2020