Oxford to inform, consult residents about deer

OXFORD – Oxford will host two meetings next month to discuss ongoing concerns that the city has too many deer.
At the first, on Dec. 3, wildlife biologists and other experts will provide information about the deer population, the problems they are causing and the mitigation options available.
On Dec. 17 residents will have an opportunity to present their views about the matter. Both meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.
On Tuesday, state and federal wildlife officials presented results of a recent survey of the deer population in certain parts of Oxford.
Chad Dacus, deer program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said the survey, done over several mornings and evenings, counted only those animals visible from the street and still found as many as 20 animals in some neighborhoods.
“The thing I want to stress is these are minimum known numbers, but it does give us something to go by,” Dacus said. He suggested repeating the survey in January and in mid- to late spring, then repeating annually at the same times.
Many of the complaints about deer in Oxford focus on landscape destruction, but Ward 2 Alderman E.O. Oliver said, “It’s not a matter of eating of somebody’s flowers. It’s the safety of people on the streets.”
The city tried in September to thin the herd after two MDWFP officers approved an out-of-season bowhunt that later was overturned by higher officials in the agency.
“We did exactly what we were told to do,” Mayor Pat Patterson reminded Dacus.
“The issue was the timing of it,” Dacus replied. “We basically were 25 days off on the whole deal.”
Kris Godwin, state director of USDA’s wildlife services, said deer control will take “concerted public effort.” She has suggested combining harassment of deer with an ordinance against their feeding as a first measure. Hunts will likely be needed as well, she said.
“You have the potential to double your deer population every year,” she said.

Contact Errol Castens at (601) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal