Bays Mountain Park loses white-tail deer

Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium regrets to announce the passing of one of their white-tail deer, Cotton. Cotton passed sometime during the night of September 11 and was found by staff the following morning (Sept. 12).

Cotton lived a full life, passing at 11 years old. She came to Bays Mountain Park at the age of 8 months in 2012. She was confiscated from a family that had illegally removed Cotton from the wild at a very young age.

“She was a special deer, not only to park staff but to the community,” said Megan Krager, manager of Bays Mountain Park. “She had a lot of spunk and pep, and she made a lot of people smile. She liked playing chase. Staff would run along the fence and she would follow, sometimes kicking up her back legs in excitement. Park staff are deeply saddened by this loss.”

Cotton was always friendly and playful with staff since she had spent nearly all of her life with people. When she first arrived at Bays Mountain, she gained the nickname “Squirt” from her caretakers. She enjoyed playing with staff, especially when squirted by the water hose. Always a runner, Cotton would often race staff and visitors up and down the fence line.

“She was a favorite for all of us here at the park,” said Ranger Rhonda Goins. “When she first came, she loved Honey Nut Cheerios. She didn’t realize she was a deer. She thought she was a dog because that’s how she was raised. She came to us with a pink dog collar. We will all miss her very much.”

Cotton often inspired wonder among park guests due to her unique color pattern. Born piebald, she had a white and brown pattern unlike that of most deer. This genetic difference did not hinder Cotton’s life but did make her an exceptional ambassador for her species.

Cotton’s playful and curious nature will be profoundly missed by all the Bays Mountain staff, volunteers, and visitors.