Longueuil Deer: Goldwater, Dubé Continues the Battle to Recognize Animal Sentience in Law

Dec 6, 2023

Goldwater, Dubé and its senior partner Me Anne-France Goldwater wish to express disappointment following the October 26, 2023 Québec Court of Appeal ruling, ending the formal action against the City of Longueuil and the Government of Quebec which aimed to stop a brutal plan to slaughter the herd of deer living in Michel-Chartrand Park by crossbow.

Me Goldwater and her colleagues wish to thank animal welfare advocates in the Montréal suburb, as well as allies with the Montréal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), for their support of the action over many years and their passionate advocacy for common-sense bylaws to manage Québec’s unique biodiversity. 

Although all parties must abide by the Court’s decision, the ruling by no means changes Goldwater, Dubé’s perspective that Québecers are both morally and legally compelled to consider all possible non-lethal options whenever animal control policy is on the agenda. Me Goldwater and her team will continue to advocate for both legislative and political solutions to ensure that all sentient animals are protected by law. 

“In the year 2023, it is no longer acceptable to kill an animal simply because he is a ‘nuisance’,” said Me Goldwater. “The method chosen is brutal, and the animals will experience tortuous pain. Until the judicial system recognizes the scientific reality of animal sentience, we will keep fighting. We have already bought these deer an extra year of life and I am grateful for that. And as long as I draw breath, I will continue the fight to eliminate as much animal suffering at the hands of humans as possible. That’s the only comfort I can offer.”

Although the current legal action to humanely control the deer population in Michel-Chartrand Park is over, other less cruel avenues are still available to be explored by the municipality. 

“Mayor Catherine Fournier will have to face a political reality,” Me Goldwater added. “Will her electorate tolerate her choice to preside over a mass slaughter of deer by hunters using crossbows, a method of killing that is particularly cruel since the deer wounded by an arrow will still live long enough to suffer and be aware of his impending death? Who would want this on their curriculum vitae?”


Humane Alternatives Exist

The animal rights principle at the core of the case brought by Goldwater, Dubé is that killing any animal should be considered an absolute last resort. Québec law recognizes animals (including deer) as sentient beings who have biological imperatives, including the capacity to feel pain and joy.

Goldwater, Dubé is adamantly against crossbow hunts as a means of population control. This approach, the firm argues, goes against Québec’s animal welfare laws. Furthermore, slaughter is wholly unnecessary when humane alternatives to overpopulation, such as sterilization, are being successfully implemented in nearby  jurisdictions in the United States (New York and New Jersey). Our clients offered to carry out such an operation, relying on American expertise and at no cost to the municipality, in addition to a relocation plan which was also rejected.

Crossbow hunts have been banned around the world for their cruelty. In Australia, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recently reminded citizens that the practice is banned on public land as “surveys of deer hunters have found that deer shot with bows are approximately six times more likely to be wounded and escape than deer shot by professional shooters with rifles” — itself a scenario that Goldwater, Dubé maintains would still demonstrate cruelty toward Longueuil’s deer population when non-lethal, cost-free options remain on the table for the Montréal suburb.


photo: Les Amis du parc Michel-Chartrand (APMC)

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