Horseshoe Bend, known for its water sports, golfing and general recreation opportunities, may be adding in-city deer hunting to the list of available activities after the November election, according to Horseshoe Bend Mayor Bob Barnes.
"I have had a lot of people that have contacted me for the last year or so concerned about the population of the deer, how thick they are getting and the danger to people driving up and down the road," Barnes said.
The issue was brought before the council at the July 16 finance committee meeting.
"What I am asking the council members to do, is either vote to put it on the ballot or not. We will let the citizens make the decision whether they want a deer hunt inside the city limits or not," Barnes said.
Often times, to get a proposal on the election ballot a petition must be signed and a specific number of individuals must support it before the proposal is allowed to be voted on. In the case of the Horseshoe Bend city deer hunt, the city council may vote to have it placed on the ballot with no petition necessary, according to Barnes.
"The council will just have to make a decision if they want to place it on the ballot or not," Barnes said. "I am of the understanding that is all we have to do."
If the issue is placed on the ballot, Barnes said he is unsure of the outcome of the vote.
"I really don't know. I spoke with Lloyd Hefley, mayor of Cherokee Village, and I was surprised. He said over there they were 3-to-1 in favor of it. Honestly, I have talked to several people and I feel like it is basically a 50/50 issue, I really do," Barnes said.
"If the council decides to put the hunt on the ballot we will let the citizens decide if they want it or not. It would strictly be a bow hunt and it would be ran through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Bow Hunters Association," Barnes said.
"I really don't have an opinion on it one way or the other. It is really going to be a heated topic with some people. Some people are very much against killing deer at all. Others think killing them all is the way to go. So, everyone has their own opinion, their own idea on it," Barnes said. "We will just let majority rule on that."
Although Barnes said he is indifferent to the subject, he did say that the problem with the overpopulation of deer in and around Horseshoe Bend is real.
"They are all over. There is not any one spot where they would be thicker than another. You see them all over town at all hours of the day and night, anymore," he said.
The city's streets are constantly being trafficked by the large number of deer, as well as the highway, Barnes said. "They think they own it," he said laughing.
"I know a lot of people in the city feed them and I know that brings them into a heavy populated area," Barnes said.
If the Horseshoe Bend City Council approved the hunt to be placed on the ballot, it will be available for vote in the November election. Cherokee Village saw a similar program approved and adopted in the May election.