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Ruth: 'Stand your ground' restricts golfers confronting duck poacher

You have to wonder what was going to be on the dessert menu? Flambe of roadkill? Squirrel a la mode? Perhaps snake on a stick. Yummers.

You don't see this very often on the links, a redneck in search of a cheap dinner. But there this low-life was a few days ago scurrying off the sixth hole at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course in Forest Hills with a fat Muscovy duck tucked under his arm.

What? Kentucky Fried Chicken was closed?

"Hey, where do you think you're going with that duck?" I asked as I approached the Gomer Pyle of Poaching Most Fowl.

The Muscovy moron claimed he had a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (more about that in a moment) to remove nuisance ducks from the golf course, as well as permission from the Tampa Sports Authority, which oversees the city's three public golf courses, to embark on his crusade against the critters.

"Yeah right," observed another golfer who happened upon us. "You're gonna have duck stew tonight, aren't ya pal?"

Pretty soon five of us had gathered around the man, still cradling the Muscovy, who claimed he didn't have his "permit" with him at the moment.

Another golfer whipped out his cellphone. "I've got Kennie Sims' number, let's call him," he said referring to the TSA's director of golf operations. The aviary Lil' Abner was getting nervous. The duck appeared to be even more nervous.

Before the golfer could raise Sims on the phone, the Ernest T. Bass of birds tossed the duck into a cage in the back seat of his SUV and drove off.

You can probably guess the rest of this. "We don't give out permits [to capture ducks]," said Chris Wynn, of the wildlife commission. "And I can't think of any circumstance where we would."

Later, after running the duck poacher's license plate number, Wynn confirmed he was not listed on the agency's list of trappers.

As for the TSA, "We have not retained anyone, nor given anyone permission to go and remove wildlife from the golf courses," said agency spokeswoman Barbara Casey, adding if this creep ever showed up again to purloin a duck, the TSA would charge him with trespassing.

So okay, it's established that this goober was not only a thief, but a liar, too.

But there's also this.

We reported his license plate number to the TSA. Sims said the agency intends to file a police report. Still five men surrounded this dolt, confronted him about his obviously sleazy behavior — and did nothing to try and take the animal away from him.

You know why? Florida's insane "stand your ground" law. That's why.

I don't know about the other men, but it was probably reasonable to assume that any bumpkin cheesy enough to stalk a public golf course to steal a duck might well also be packing a firearm.

After all, a shooting broke out the other day in a St. Petersburg restaurant over an argument about a late pizza. Things have gotten so twisted, you can get shot in Florida literally because of a piece of pepperoni.

Certainly, I cared about the bird. I love all the wildlife populating the Babe Zaharias Golf Course. But I wasn't willing to risk the possibility of getting offed by the Festus T. Hagan of feathers over a duck.

I hope the Great Daffy Hunter comes back to the Babe. The TSA and the wildlife commission have been alerted this time. With some luck he'll be a dead duck.

Ruth: 'Stand your ground' restricts golfers confronting duck poacher 12/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:27pm]

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