Fifteen permits will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis for bow hunts only on 28 private properties.
"We're starting to take applications now," Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt said. "We decide who gets 50 doe tags for 15 people."
The city is currently accepting applications from hunters, who must also undergo a state background check for hunting violations before the permits are issued, says Diane Wilkerson, assistant to Eureka Springs Mayor Morris Pate.
"Basically, hunters will email their request, and we will send them a form after the background check, provided they pass it," Wilkerson said. "If they check out, they are added to the list."
Hunters must have written permission from one or more of the 28 private property owners to hunt on their land, then return the permission slip to Wilkerson's office for tags. There will be two hunts: Sept. 15 through Oct. 7 and Nov. 10 through Feb. 28. Wilkerson says that during the fall tourist season from Oct. 10 to Nov. 7, hunts will be disallowed.
"We have a lot of tourists here at that time, so we're not going to hold the hunt during that time period," she explained.
After written permission and a doe tag have been obtained, bow hunters can harvest the deer and return proof of the kill to Wilkerson's office. Two buck tags will be issued and another doe tag is issued if the hunter wants to continue to harvest.
"We will have a reserve list after the initial 15 (permits are issued) and if one of those 15 don't want to continue to hunt, the next person on the reserve list will be allowed to harvest deer," said Hyatt, the chairman of the committee charged with overseeing the hunt. "The deer population is very high in Eureka Springs. There is a lot of deprivation. The deer are eating flowers, shrubs, they stand in the roads and streets and are dangerous to drivers. And if the population gets too thick, there is a chance that disease could spread."
Hyatt added that through the Deer Management Assistance Program, the hunt will hopefully reduce the population by at least 50 to 75 deer.
"We have two programs to assist with deer damage and deprivation throughout the state," Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Cory Gray said. "Seven cities in the state are participating in the Urban Deer Hunt, and we provide a list of regulations for the bow hunters."
Fifty doe tags will be issued to Eureka Springs from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
"We consider them like a deer camp," Gray said.
However, opponents of the urban deer hunt have safety concerns that have yet to be addressed, they say.
"I personally don't think that this was the intent of the voters," Eureka Springs Alderman Ken Pownall said. "Originally, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was going to oversee it, but now it's taken on its own form. The problem is there are too many 'what ifs' and there are safety concerns for residents of Eureka Springs. A solution for this has not been addressed.
"It's a tough call," he continued. "We have an ordinance that deters feeding deer and a hunt was decided to be the answer, but I don't like the way it's being handled. There seems to be a lack of communication with the mayor and the council."
Mayor Pate did not return phone calls seeking comment on Monday.
"The biggest concern is are we really pursuing what we voted on?" Pownall asked. "This is different, and I don't know if people will support it. It would be costly to the city to hold another special election, but at least they are trying. We'll just have to wait and see what happens, but safety should come first.
"There should be a method of notifying people when there will be hunters on private properties around them. There are lot of kids who play in the woods and with hunters out there, it's a grave concern. That should come to the forefront."
Other Eureka Springs aldermen, such as Parker Raphael are in favor of the special urban bow hunt.
"The people voted to have one," Raphael said. "We didn't have one last year, so the mayor and a few others investigated the issue and came up with an organized hunting club to do it.
"People are sensitive to this, and since our no-feeding ordinance has been in effect, I have noticed less deer within the city limits. I think we will be just fine with the hunt. These deer are tame and come up to houses. I'm amazed we haven't had more fatalities."
Alderman Lany Ballance disagrees.
"What the mayor wants is not what the people voted for," Ballance said. "Originally, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was to oversee the hunt, but now the Game and Fish are not going to do that. And there is a safety concern. Last year, a friend of mine found an arrow stuck in her front porch."
At Monday's council meeting, aldermen had several questions for Pate; he is expected to have additional information at a special Deer Hunt Committee meeting on Thursday, June 21 at 2:30 p.m.