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Lefty, the one-antlered deer, dies after mysterious appearance in NYC park

NEW YORK -- A New York City deer that was first slated to be humanely euthanized and then spared to be relocated has died while awaiting the trip upstate, CBS New York reports.

City officials said Friday that the deer, which had only one antler, died as a result of being under a lot of stress while in captivity. The buck drew crowds for about two weeks at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem, where it was known to residents either as J.R. or as Lefty for its missing left antler.

The deer’s death came after the city said despite its concerns that it would be handing over the deer to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to be relocated upstate.

The city and the state had been at odds over the fate of the white-tailed deer since it was caught Thursday near West 155th Street. It had wandered out of the Jackie Robinson Park.

Sarah Aucoin, chief of wildlife and education for the city Department of Parks and Recreation, said earlier Friday that euthanizing the animal was the “best, safest and most humane course of action.”

“Moving the deer to a new place would likely have caused the animal a great deal of suffering and would have been inhumane on many levels,” she said in a statement.

Aucoin said the lower temperatures in the area combined with the time the deer had spent tranquilized and held in captivity would have also made injury or death “all the more likely.”

But DEC spokesman Sean Mahar said in a statement that the state wanted “to do everything we can to save the life of the deer.”

He said they were working on securing a safe transport for the animal to a “suitable habitat upstate” in partnership with the federal Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Unit.

“We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat. The City did not accept our offer until just before noon, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the City’s possession,” Mahar said in a statement Friday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday had directed the DEC to offer assistance to the city in relocating the animal to a new habitat.

According to the state’s website, “A DEC permit is required to capture and relocate deer. Permits are not issued to relocate deer to the wild because acceptable release sites are not available and because the poor chances for deer survival do not warrant the risks.”

Some residents in Harlem were upset about the possibility of the deer being put down.

“I disagree with that,” one woman told CBS radio station WINS-AM. “It’s very sad.”