Generally, new towns or settlements are built near water or other natural resources; but humans are not the only ones who make use of these essentials. Animals often use water and food sources in the same areas where humans are settling. For many animals, towns mean water and abundant food from the waste products thrown out by humans. Thus, wildlife often encroaches on civilization. In mountain states, people sometimes spot bears, elk, moose, and even mountain lions wandering through town. On the plains, coyotes or antelope often become interlopers.
Siloam Springs is no different. In recent years, Siloam has experienced numerous memorable wildlife sightings. In 2015, a resident running along the Dogwood Trail spotted a black bear*. In 2016, another black bear was tranquilized on the 900 block of West Jefferson Street**. More common animals in Siloam include skunks, armadillos, raccoons, and deer. Many in Siloam remember Doug the Deer, a young, friendly buck who meandered through the trees near the John Brown University campus in 2016. The deer was so popular that some saw him as a mascot of sorts. Many took photos with him which can be found with a quick Google search. One person even made Doug his own Facebook page which eventually reached almost 2,500 friends. In October of 2016, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission moved Doug to a safe, undisclosed location, both for Doug's safety and the safety of the people who had grown so fond of interacting with him***. While he was here, he left quite an impression. The mural on the side of the Ability Tree building near Twin Springs Park, painted by Fayetteville artist Jason Jones, is at least partly inspired by the many online pictures of Doug the Deer****.
According to this week’s featured photo, friendly deer have a long history of interaction with the people of Siloam Springs. Donated in 1983, the photo shows a large house at the top of the hill behind Twin Springs. In its own right, the photo is a beautiful depiction of the springs in the 1920’s.
When the photo is inspected more closely, a deer can be seen in the middle of the large, open porch on the house above the springs. Two people stand on the right side of the porch who appear to be posing for the photographer. The woman in the photograph looks as though she may be looking at the deer which shows no signs of being frightened by the couple's presence.
Today, the springs themselves look similar to this photo from the 1920’s. The house in the photo has since been torn down and a new house built in its place. However, deer and other wildlife can still occasionally be seen in the Twin Springs area if the circumstances are right.
While it appears that Doug the Friendly Deer was a continuation of Siloam’s legacy of friendly deer, the Siloam Springs Museum recommends avoiding interactions with wildlife. Rather than approaching wild animals, be safe and call the proper authorities.
Written by Chuck McClary. Photos provided by the Siloam Springs Museum and its archives.