MEMBERS of the community have hit out at the "barbaric" shooting and dumping of a cat in the creek of a Bundaberg park.
Kepnock man David Spence was out on his usual morning walk through Queens Park when he made the grim discovery of the dead black cat on Wednesday morning.
"I go for a wander in the mornings and usually take the camera with me," he said.
While taking snaps of his surroundings, Mr Spence said he came across the cat floating on the surface with three visible gunshot wounds - one to its stomach and two shots to one of the back legs.
"It wasn't bloated, so it hadn't been there long," he said.
The 48-year-old said the location of the dead animal in the park made him believe the cat had been killed elsewhere, before the carcass was dumped in O'Connell Creek, at the edge of the park.
"It's pretty barbaric," Mr Spence said.
Bundaberg RSPCA inspector Amanda Yates said it was not illegal to intentionally shoot to kill an animal, particularly if it was feral or threatening livestock, but said she would investigate if there was enough evidence to suggest animal cruelty.
"If it is (the) intent to put the animal to sleep, it is legal to shoot," she said.
"Obviously it is an act of cruelty if it is shot to injure, and not kill."
But Mr Spence said regardless of what the laws stated, dumping dead animals in a public place was not acceptable.
He said the park was a busy place for families, with swing sets close to where the cat was found.
"I'm surprised how many people actually use the park area of a morning," he said.
"If you can shoot them, you wouldn't want to dispose (of) them in a public creek."
Ms Yates said firstly an autopsy would have to be conducted to confirm the cause of death before any investigations could begin.
"There are other circumstances that could cause an injury that could look like a gunshot," she said.
"If someone has shot at the animal, and know they've hit it, I would be more than happy to start an investigation."
Bundaberg Regional Council Health and Regulatory Services manager John Duffield said the council had not conducted any recent cat eradication programs.
"That's not the way we'd go about it - we use trapping followed by euthanasia," he said.
"If you were doing a dedicated eradication program with a gun, you wouldn't be leaving carcasses there."
Ms Yates said there were hefty penalties associated with harming animals, including up to two years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.