Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating claims that an employee at a St. Albert, Alta., golf course purposely ran over several geese with a golf cart, killing two of the animals.
Brad Anderson was golfing at the Sandpiper Golf and Country Club on Thursday when he says he saw the course superintendent drive through a flock of geese on the 15th fairway.
“As we were driving down the fairway, we watched this grounds guy go from the left side of the fairway to the right side of the fairway behind the flock of geese that were maybe five feet away from a pond,” Anderson said.
Anderson says two geese were hit. One appeared to have been killed fairly quickly, but the second made attempts to get up, move its wings and walk around.
“It was disgusting,” Anderson said. “For somebody to do something like that, it was very unprofessional and … horribly unnecessary was the biggest thing.”
Anderson says he and his playing partner called the clubhouse after seeing the incident to complain. He spoke to the course manager, who assured Anderson they were going to do something about it.
A short time later, the grounds worker in question came up to Anderson and his partner and tried to apologize. Anderson says the man told him it was an accident that happened when he was trying to herd the geese off the fairway and into a pond. He reportedly said he was expecting the geese to go right, but two of them went to the left.
“We said to him: ‘Man, you didn’t even give them an opportunity to move, you didn’t slow down. It was gross.'”
Anderson says the geese weren’t in the way at all where they were and that the birds were only about five feet away from a pond.
A Facebook post that Anderson wrote about the incident had been shared more than 2,000 times before he made it private at around 10 a.m. on Friday.
At first, the golf course issued a statement on Facebook, saying the situation had “gotten out of hand and blown out of proportion.” According to the course’s first statement, the superintendent was trying to herd the geese toward the pond.
“For you that know our superintendent, you know he would never harm anyone or anything maliciously or with intent and is a loving family man,” the course wrote. “Nobody feels worse than our superintendent of this unfortunate incident.”
The course added that the superintendent had reached out to Alberta Fish and Wildlife himself to report the incident.
Anderson feels that the first statement wasn’t remorseful and the course was “trying to save face” after his own post blew up the way it did.
“I don’t feel like this was an accident,” he said.
“If it was an accident, he wouldn’t have been driving through the middle of a flock of geese that was in front of him.
“To me, the course manager was condoning it.”
On Friday, the course issued a second statement on Facebook apologizing for the incident.
“We are deeply disappointed about the incident that took place today and we do not condone this behaviour in any way,” it wrote. “The Fish and Wildlife officers have come to investigate the situation and will be holding the individual responsible for his actions.”
Anderson gave his own statement to Fish and Wildlife on Thursday evening and said the organization appeared to be taking the investigation seriously.
The government agency confirmed it was investigating in a statement to Global News on Friday afternoon. Because the investigation is ongoing, it said it could not comment on specifics, but said there were a number of reports from the public.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife added that, in general, it is an offence to harass, kill or injure migratory birds under both the provincial Wildlife Act and the federal Migratory Game Birds Act. Doing so can result in a fine, jailtime or both, it said.
Sandpiper said there was an internal review underway but did not say whether the superintendent was still employed at the course.
The original statement appears to have been deleted from the course’s Facebook page.
As for Anderson, he said he won’t be returning to Sandpiper again, despite calling it one of the better courses to play in the area.
“If this had been my playing partner and I behaving in that same manner and we had been seen by a golf course employee, who knows what would happen to us, but I can guarantee we wouldn’t be allowed to play there anymore,” he said.
Global News has reached out to Sandpiper for comment on the matter but hasn’t heard back as of this writing.