EUREKA SPRINGS -- Mayor Morris Pate told city council Monday evening the deer hunt authorized by voters is almost set. The next deer hunt committee meeting will be Thursday, June 21, at 2:30 p.m. in Pate's office at city hall.
Citizens of Eureka Springs voted in November 2010 for council to set up an urban deer hunt, and originally council wanted to conduct the hunt during autumn 2011. As discussions at council continued, questions and concerns arose, such as the idea that a one-time deer hunt did not necessarily mean a one-day hunt as some citizens assumed.
Several citizens spoke up at the August 18 council meeting to express concerns over who would be supervising the hunt, how skilled and qualified the hunters would be and generally that the hunt seemed to be changing into something different from what they had voted for.
Alderman Butch Berry showed council rules used in other urban deer hunts as prescribed by Arkansas Game & Fish, and emphasized that all participants would have to pass the International Bowhunters Education Course as well as a shooting proficiency test.
Nevertheless, because of community concern, council decided to delay the hunt until late in 2012 and form a committee to work out the details. The committee was formed by December and is comprised of Pate, Berry, Police Chief Earl Hyatt, Dee Purkeypile, Mickey Schneider and Gwen Bennett. The committee is chaired by Hyatt.
The committee has worked with the Arkansas Bowhunters Association to develop guidelines for the hunt and prepare a map of private properties offered by owners for the hunt. The committee also established criteria for how the hunters would be chosen, which includes background checks.
As it stands now, there are 28 properties offered, and 15 hunters will be chosen from those who apply. Pate said he had 50 deer tags and hunters are required to get written permission from property owners. Dates of the hunt are Sept. 15 -- Oct. 7 and Nov. 10 -- Feb. 28.
Information on how to apply and hunt guidelines are available from Pate's office.
Alderman Karen Lindblad asked about the city's liability and Pate answered the city is not liable. She asked what if a stray arrow hits a dog on an adjacent property, or what if a deer is hit and stumbles onto a neighboring property which did not authorize the hunt? She also asked about the qualifications and experience of participants.
Pate replied that he would provide her with answers to all her questions at next Thursday's meeting.