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Game Ranch closes for cleanup

LILBURN - Two days after the swollen Yellow River submerged portions of the Yellow River Game Ranch, Art Rilling surveyed damage at the Lilburn attraction.

The flood flattened fences, bent some animal cages and distributed mounds of dirt along the trail. The force of the water also pushed over a platform that overlooked the river and placed some picnic tables in the trees.

"It's a mess. That's just the way to say it," said Rilling, CEO of the Game Ranch.

The Game Ranch opened in 1962 at Stone Mountain Park and moved to its current location on the Yellow River in 1982. The park is typically open every day except Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Day, but the attraction is temporarily closed so employees can clean up the damage.

"We don't know how fast we can do it," Rilling said.

The first priority is to fix the fencing before the deer that wander the property get curious about the gaps in the partition, Rilling said on Wednesday. Then employees can tackle the other chores, including cleaning out cages that have been filled with debris and grading the trail.

No animals were trapped in cages, although a few - such as the barred owls - were let go, Rilling said. On Monday evening, a cougar was moved to a cage on higher ground. Although her cage was placed about 50 feet up a hill from the 100-year flood line, the water in the cage on Monday was chest-high.

"Mother Nature didn't pay attention to that (100-year flood line)," Rilling said.

Cages on higher ground, including those for the black bears and buffalo, were unaffected by the flood. The home of Georgia's official weather prognosticator, General Beauregard Lee, appeared to be OK.