Oxford to host meeting on city’s deer situation

OXFORD – State and federal wildlife management officials will outline Oxford’s deer situation and some of the possible solutions for the public on Thursday.
“I’d like to try to get as much information out as possible … instead of getting into this neighbor-versus-neighbor thing,” Mayor Pat Patterson said about the informational 6 p.m. meeting at the Oxford Conference Center.
To make the best use of time, city officials said public input on the ongoing situation would be reserved for a second meeting on Dec. 17.
Chad Dacus, who leads the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ deer program, told city officials earlier this month, “Give people time to digest (the information), then ask them for comment.”
The debate over whether Oxford has a deer problem and, if so, what to do about it, has created controversy on several fronts. Some residents have complained the animals eat expensive landscaping and pose dangers to motorists – backed up by reports from several insurance agents that they field several deer-car collision claims each month. Others, meanwhile, say deer are part of the city’s ambiance.
City officials, prompted by numerous complaints, originally opted in September to authorize selected bowhunters to thin the herd. After a misunderstanding about whether the city could authorize such a hunt before the state-sanctioned bow season, that hunt was abandoned.
State wildlife officials have conducted several surveys of Oxford’s deer population, finding high concentrations – especially in certain neighborhoods where they have both cover and food readily available. They have suggested repeating the survey in January and again in spring.
Several possible measures have already been suggested to deal with the deer population if most residents agree it poses a problem. Among them are an ordinance to outlaw feeding deer, harassment techniques such as motion-sensor lights and scare tactics, as well as removing underbrush that provides bedding areas for deer.
Both Thursday’s informational meeting and the Dec. 17 meeting for public input are scheduled to last two hours.

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal