Otus the Head Cat
Feral cows bedeviling Heber Springs again.
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: email@example.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.