DOCUMENT: Animals, Sports

Golf Pro Charged After Shooting Birdie

Cops: Athlete deliberately killed noisy hawk at Florida club

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Golf Pro Charged After Shooting Birdie

MARCH 6--Nettled by a noisy red-shouldered hawk that was disrupting a video shoot, a professional golfer allegedly silenced the bird by striking and killing it with a golf drive from about 75 yards away. Now Tripp Isenhour, 39, is facing a pair of misdemeanor criminal charges for the December 12 incident at Florida's Grand Cypress Golf Club.

According to March 5 court filings, Isenhour--who last year earned nearly $500,000 on the PGA tour--was taping a "Shoot Like a Pro" video when the bird's squawking disrupted filming on several occasions. The golfer, pictured at left, initially responded by trying to strike the bird as it sat in a tree about 300 yards from where he was filming the video. Those attempts failed.

But when the hawk later relocated to a tree much closer to the set and resumed its noisemaking, Isenhour again targeted the bird, announcing, "I'll get him now." Investigators allege that it took Isenhour about 10 tries to zero in on the hawk, which was struck with one of Isenhour's shots and knocked out of the tree.

After killing the bird, which fell 30 feet from its perch, Isenhour remarked, "I didn't think I would hit it," according to witnesses. The dying hawk, "bleeding from its nostrils, its mouth opening and closing slowly," was later buried on the golf course.

As noted in a court document, Isenhour "is not the first sports/athlete to find it entertaining to kill birds/animals on a golf course or other sport field, but it is a crime for each of them." Isenhour has been charged in Orange County Court with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird. (3 pages)