Legitimate use of firearms on golf course

To the editor:

To the editor:

On Friday, Jan. 7, at approximately 9:35 a.m., I drove along McCulloch Road overlooking the golf courses. I noted many flocks of geese on both The Harvest Golf Course and Orchard Greens Golf Course. Other flocks were landing on both courses.

The weather conditions were such that the feeding geese would be doing maximum damage to the turf—the green part of the grass was thawing with the root of the grass still frozen into the soil.

I had a 10 a.m. meeting and was unable to scare the geese off the course. I would have used the same method to scare away the geese as Buddy (Tavares) has used. This is commonplace procedure for handling this type of nuisance.

The golf course is in the Agriculture Land Reserve and no different than any other crop. We have to produce perfect grass to make good greens. Geese do enormous damage to greens and fairways as starlings do to cherries and grapes—a well known fact. The market for these products is very demanding and competitive.

We use propane cannon, fire crackers and other noise makers to simulate gun shots and frighten the birds away to alleviate damage.

There is a long tradition of farmers using shot guns to control varmints and wildlife that damage crops. This is not hunting, the objective is not to kill or injure the birds. This is common knowledge to any person resident of the Okanagan Valley and should be common knowledge to law enforcement officials or handymen mechanics working on a golf course.

The problem is that geese are particularly quick to learn that the simulated gun shots pose no threat and become complacent if occasionally we don’t reinforce their fear with the real thing. This procedure applies to starlings with cherry and grape crops also.

The discharge of shotgun shells is no more a hazard than the Kelowna Trap Club shoots, which happen to be in the proximity of our orchards and vineyards.

At times (if people are in the immediate area) I sometimes remove the pellets from shells or use phosphorus loaded (flare) shells.

Orchard Greens Golf Course adjoins The Harvest Golf Course and in places, the boundary is unfenced. We have often traded favours back and forth as neighbours.

Anyone whose livelihood (and is conscientious) depends on a golf course knows that geese on the greens pose a real threat and have to be controlled.

Not only have I given Buddy permission to enter our course to control the goose problem, but thank and compensate him for assisting us. He could have just as well been on Orchard Greens as on The Harvest Golf course. The problem is too many geese doing too much damage and no city control.

This sad injustice (Tavares’ arrest and brutalization during the arrest) started with the questionable motives of a handy man mechanic who, with no authority or just cause, exaggerated a routine event (scaring geese from Orchard Greens and Harvest golf courses) by an employee of 18 years as greenskeeper, who fired two shot shells into the ground.

There was no effort to confirm the credibility or circumstances related to the supposed firearms infraction by the person receiving the complaint. No investigation or elaboration of the complaint was carried out by Constable Mantler, who had made no effort to verify the facts or the nature of the complaint and greeted Buddy with unprovoked aggression.

Mantler was accompanied by a female officer who made no effort to stop or in any way protect Buddy from the assault taking place in her presence. How did she know that the initial kick was all that Mantler had in mind.

Who could tell whether his distraught mind was going to continue the assault or, God forbid, shoot Buddy. No effort was made to disarm Mantler.

The gravest concern of all, is the indifference of the RCMP to the situation and the fear that any citizen of Kelowna can become a target of police brutality and unaccountability.

What further clouds this situation is the only person who acted sanely, calm and with diligence in his job was the victim, Buddy.

The assault was obvious. How is it that Buddy was jailed and out on bail with many bail conditions while Mantler hasn’t even been charged, never mind had to serve jail time.

There have been no consequences for Mantler. He still receives his regular wage paid by the taxpayers, including Buddy. Something is wrong with this rationale?

It was evident to anyone witnessing the video that Mantler had “lost it” and the assisting officer was complacent and accepting this as “business as usual” procedure.

What upbringing by parents or community could possibly produce an individual so wicked and void of remorse or compassion? One wonders about an organization of superiors of Mantlers’ who appear to reflect or condone his attitude. Off duty with pay?

Where is the mayor on this? Where are the MLA comments or support?

I would suggest that the RCMP do not need a probe in this matter, they need a prod.

It is time that we went back to our own accountable police force as the City of Kelowna or at least a provincial force accountable to the people.

This situation opens the doors to many scary thoughts. One such thought is do we trust the officers to be judge, jury and executioner with the enforcement of the latest alcohol-related laws where the individual has no recourse and the officers have no accountability?

Respectfully and with sincere thought,

Chris Turton, owner

Orchard Greens Golf Course

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