Because of the high profile nature of this case, the PGA needs to take steps to address its interest and to make it clear that they dont condone animal cruelty, said Dale Bartlett, the Humane Society of the United States deputy manager for animal cruelty issues.
Isenhour was charged Wednesday with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird, misdemeanors that carry a maximum penalty of 14 months in jail and $1,500 in fines.
Isenhour, playing the Nationwide Tour this season after losing his PGA TOUR card last year, apologized in a statement released Thursday and said he was only trying to scare the hawk away.
The 39-year-old player, whose real name is John Henry Isenhour III, became angry while filming Shoot Like A Pro on Dec. 12 at the Grand Cypress Golf Club'his home course'when a squawking red-shouldered hawk forced another take.
He got in his golf cart and drove closer to the bird, then 300 yards away, and starting hitting balls at it. The bird didnt move and Isenhour gave up and drove away.
Isenhour started again when the hawk moved within about 75 yards, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer Brian Baine indicated in a report.
Isenhour allegedly said, Ill get him now, and aimed for the hawk.
About the sixth ball came very near the birds head, and (Isenhour) was very excited that it was so close, Baine wrote.
A few shots later, witnesses said he hit the hawk. The bird, protected as a migratory species, fell to the ground bleeding from both nostrils.
As soon as this happened, I was mortified and extremely upset and continue to be upset, Isenhour said in a statement issued through his management company, SFX Golf. I want to let everyone know there was neither any malice nor deliberate intent whatsoever to hit or harm the hawk. I was trying to simply scare it into flying away.
Bartlett said Isenhours case, like the Michael Vick dog fighting case, is disappointing for society.
We look up to professional athletes and we want them to reflect the best of us as a society and I think were appalled when it turns out they instead reflect some of the very worst attributes, he said in a phone interview Thursday night.
Isenhour said he is an animal lover and his family has adopted three cats from a local shelter.
We ask that everyone accept my sincerest apology, and please be respectful of my familys privacy, he said.
Isenhour has won four times on the Nationwide Tour, including twice in 2006. The former Georgia Tech star has played three events this year on the developmental circuit, the last a 36th-place tie two weeks ago in the Moonah Classic in Australia.
Jethro Senger, a sound engineer at the shoot, said hitting the bird was basically like a joke to (Isenhour).
He just kept saying how he didnt think he could have hit it, which I think is a stupid thing for a PGA TOUR golfer to say, Senger said. He can put a ball in a hole from hundreds of yards away, and here he is hitting line drives at something thats, I dont know, a couple hundred feet away?
Senger said no one in the roughly 15-person crew intervened, and many later regretted it.
It was one of those cases where theres some trepidation on whether or not they should speak up and do something, Senger said.
Senger said the killing was not captured on video. The bird was buried at the golf course and later dug up by Florida investigators.
Americans have no tolerance for cruelty to animals. Such a petty, mean spirited act against a wild bird is inexcusable and prosecutors are right to hold Isenhour accountable to the law, Humane Society executive vice president Michael Markarian said in a statement released Thursday.
Associated Press Writer Kelli Kennedy in Miami contributed to this report.
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