Otus the Head Cat

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE -

Feral cows be­dev­il­ing He­ber Springs again.

Dear Otus,

I hear that the He­ber Springs feral cow prob­lem has re­turned and the city is con­tem­plat­ing an­other hunt. Is this some­thing out­siders can get in on or is it just for He­be­ri­ans? — Shea Ken Gnot­s­terd,

Cabot Dear Shea,

It was wholly a plea­sure to hear from you. One note, how­ever. He­ber Springs res­i­dents pre­fer to be called Spring­zo­ni­ans to dis­tin­guish them­selves from the Springzians of Eureka Springs and Sprin­gi­to­ni­ans of Hot Springs.

In­deed, you are cor­rect. The feral ur­ban cow co­nun­drum that He­ber Springs be­lieved it solved in 2006 has again reared its head. The town coun­cil says they are on the “horns” of a dilemma.

You re­ally can’t blame the cow-lov­ing folks of He­ber Springs. An in­or­di­nate num­ber of them re­tired there from North­ern climes where cows are kept fenced in pas­tures on dairy farms. That they love their free-roam­ing beeves is un­der­stand­able. Many have said they find the cat­tle “quaint and pic­turesque.”

“They add charm to the com­mu­nity,” Astrid Lind­gren, orig­i­nally from Chis­ago County, Minn., said in a 2006 ar­ti­cle in the Sun-Times. “He­ber just wouldn’t be the same with­out our cows.”

For years, many in the pic­turesque Cle­burne County com­mu­nity on Greers Ferry Lake (pop. 7,165) put out home­made silage, al­falfa nuggets and hay treats for the crit­ters.

Res­i­dents fre­quently gath­ered in the early morn­ing mist at the Dam Site Recre­ation Area to watch the “chang­ing of the cud” as the wild cows saun­tered out of the trees and over the high­way to­ward the Wil­liam Carl Gar­ner Vis­i­tor Cen­ter.

Then things got out of hand.

The an­i­mals wan­dered down the streets, ru­ined ex­pen­sive land­scaped yards and gar­dens, fright­ened small chil­dren on play­grounds and in parks, and left be­hind un­sightly bovinian waste prod­ucts.

“Th­ese wild cows will just keep com­ing back, breed­ing and over­run­ning the town un­til we do some­thing about them,” Max Frauen­thal, who was shov­el­ing ma­nure off his drive­way, said in the same ar­ti­cle.

“Don’t get me wrong. I love cows as much as the next per­son, but the town is over­run with them like we’re some­where in In­dia where the in­vi­o­la­bil­ity of the cow is held to be sacro­sanct. It’s not go­ing to get any bet­ter.”

In 2006, it was es­ti­mated by the Cle­burne County sher­iff’s de­part­ment that 3,428 feral cows were roam­ing the streets, fields, parks and en­vi­rons of He­ber Springs. To­day, Mayor James Glover es­ti­mates the num­bers are quickly ap­proach­ing that again.

“We en­listed the mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Le­gion Sax­ton-Wil­lis AR Post 64 — the largest Amer­i­can Le­gion post in the state — to help us count, ” Glover said Tues­day. “They tal­lied be­tween 2,500 and 3,000 feral cat­tle.”

In 2006, the prob­lem was han­dled by a spe­cial ur­ban bow hunt where 100 per­mits were is­sued for a cow hunt Sept. 19 through 21. The fi­nal har­vest was 2,876 cows, with the meat butchered free of charge by Don­nie’s Meat Mar­ket & Cater­ing and do­nated to the Eden Isle Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion for dis­tri­bu­tion to the needy.

This year’s hunt to thin the herd will be held Sept. 23-24 with those hold­ing per­mits gath­er­ing at dawn at Spring Park on East Main Street to re­ceive fi­nal in­struc­tions and their al­lot­ted hunt­ing zone maps. No more than three hunters per zone will be al­lowed — to re­duce the chances of ac­ci­dents.

Sen. Ja­son Rapert, R-Con­way, will en­ter­tain the crowd with fid­dle mu­sic and pro­vide the bless­ing of the hunters taken from Gen­e­sis 27:3.

It’s my un­der­stand­ing that it should be a fairly easy hunt. Most of the feral cows are docile breeds such as An­gus and Charo­lais, but there are some beefalo and Santa Gertrudis that es­caped from a Win­rock fa­cil­ity near Pangburn that have turned a bit testy over time.

There’s even an odd-look­ing Texas longhorn/buf­falo cross­breed (called a lon­galo) that has set­tled at the en­trance to the Red Ap­ple Inn on Club Road.

That ornery crit­ter, nick­named Ol’ Beevo, may take spe­cial night vi­sion equip­ment to dis­patch be­cause he’s cre­s­pus­cu­lar.

The per­mits will be dis­trib­uted by lot­tery. Gov. Asa Hutchin­son, an avid feral duck hunter, gets the first one (it’s hon­orary). To put your name in the hop­per for the Aug. 1 draw­ing, fill out the on­line form at he­ber-springs.com. Click on the smil­ing cow icon.

Un­til next time, Kalaka re­minds you that cow tipping is still a mis­de­meanor in Cle­burne County.


Fayet­teville-born Otus the Head Cat’s award-win­ning col­umn of Z hu­mor­ous fab­ri­ca­tion X ap­pears ev­ery Satur­day. E-mail: mstorey@arkansason­line.com

Cle­burne County Deputy Sher­iff Christo­pher Ryan at­tempts to cap­ture a feral cow out­side the county jail on South Ninth Street on Tues­day. The an­i­mal, which rammed his mo­tor­cy­cle, had to be put down.

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