Trespassers entered Fort McAllister State Park late Saturday night or early Sunday morning and shot a small deer and the staff mascot, a cat named Geechee, according to park manager Jason Carter.
The cat, named for the Ogeechee River, which runs past the fort, had been there for four years.
“She had the run of the park,” Carter said. “She’d be in and around the visitor’s center or hanging around the office.”
The cat was a stray the staff adopted and was comfortable with all the people coming and going at the visitors’ center.
“She probably just sat there while the person walked up and shot her,” Carter said. “An assistant manager found them Sunday morning on the road by the entrance to the visitors’ center.”
Carter said the animals were shot with .22-caliber bullets. No campers reported hearing the shots. The cat was taken to a vet but it had to be put down because of the severity of its injuries.
Carter said he believes the person or persons responsible entered the park on foot because the gate is closed from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and only registered campers are given the access code for vehicles. He added that it is likely someone who lives near the park.
“This has been an ongoing problem at certain times of the year,” Carter said. “We’ve had deer shot here two or three times before and found bloody crossbow bolts.”
Carter said the perpetrators could face several charges, including additional penalties because the crime occurred on state park property. There is a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. The park office can be reached at 912-727-2339.