When the Mammoth Spring City Council meets, Sept. 13, Mayor Jean Pace and three other city leaders hope an urban deer hunt will be approved.
"People are complaining about an overpopulation of deer in the city limits," said Recorder-Treasurer Joan Baker. "The deer are eating up peoples' gardens, flowers and shrubs.
Baker joined the Mayor and two Aldermen, Peggy Small and Jim Mills, in an Aug. 26 meeting with representatives of Arkansas Game and Fish to discuss a possible urban deer hunt.
Barry McArdle, a field biologist for Game and Fish, calls the Mammoth Spring deer population "fairly dense and skewed to does."
In his opinion, it is time to start thinning the herd, especially does, to reduce the population and move deer away from the city limits.
Game and Fish provided a map proposing a hunting area in the city and a one mile radius around it. The agency suggests a low intensity hunt that would begin Oct. 1 and run to February.
"We think, this first year, most hunters will be people from the area, especially farm owners and city dwellers who want to reduce the population because of problems deer are causing." said Biologist Ted Zawislak.
Zawislak said the hunt his agency would like to see would be nothing like the urban hunt Cherokee Village has held in recent years.
The Cherokee Village hunt runs from Sept. 6 to Nov. 12.
"During that period, more than 200 bow hunters from as far away as Jonesboro, Memphis and Texarkana converge on the area," said Zawislak. "Because the time is limited, they really hunt it hard."
Game and Fish suggests Mammoth Spring's first hunt be promoted in an area limited to in Fulton and Oregon counties. It believes that fewer hunters over a longer period of time is the best way to expose residents to an urban hunt.
"I think this will work for you," said Zawislak. "It is a good first step, not intensive, not likely to cause much controversy."
The group discussed rules of the hunt, including making some areas of the city "off limits" to hunters. Those areas would be the Main Street business district, the city park at Sixth and Main, the school on Goldsmith, and the Mammoth Spring State Park and Fish Hatchery.
Proposed rules require hunters to hunt from deer stands, keep their bows cased as they go to and from stands and have written permission from property owners where they intend to hunt.
"We will come up with a complete list of proposed rules for the hunt, so the full City Council can look at them, suggest changes, and, hopefully, approve the urban deer hunt at the next meeting," said Mayor Pace.
"Last year, 250 deer were killed during the Cherokee Village hunt and 275 were taken at Horseshoe Bend," said McArdle.
"We expect a much lower number of hunters and kills here at Mammoth Spring," added McArdle. "The first year, you might be lucky to get 50 hunters."
Since only bowhunting will be allowed in the city limits, Mayor Pace is confident a safe, orderly hunt can be held.
Pace has not heard of much opposition to the idea of a hunt and Alderman Jim Mills believes a majority are for it.
According to Mills, the deer are really taking a toll on yards on Riverside Drive, which is at the edge of the city near dense woods.
"It is nothing to get up and see a whole herd walking through your yard," said Mills.