Golf course worker accused of blasting skunks with shotgun

(Original publication: September 22, 2004)

KENT — It wasn't Bill Murray and it wasn't a gopher. Still, an employee of the Sedgewood Golf Club faces criminal charges because, police said, he used a shotgun to blast away skunks that were damaging the course.

Around 9 p.m. Monday, someone called police after noticing a golf cart with a light being operated on the course. The caller also reported hearing three shotgun blasts from the course, which is in an exclusive community of about 80 homes off Peekskill Hollow Road near the Boyd Corners Reservoir.

Sgt. Carlton Champagne and Officer Sean Benson said they found the employee — Christopher Lehan, 36, of Stormville — in a golf cart with a flashlight and a loaded 20-gauge Mossberg pump-action shotgun.

The officers said Lehan used the shotgun to shoot three skunks. In the 1980 movie "Caddyshack," Murray plays a deranged golf club greenskeeper, Carl Spackler, who is obsessed with killing a gopher that is tearing up the course.

"The skunks damage the course, and he said he had shot a couple," Lt. Alex DiVernieri said. "He didn't realize he needed a (hunting) license."

The officers conferred with state Department of Environmental Conservation police, who advised them to arrest the man. Police charged him with hunting without a license and hunting out of season, both violations, and possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor. He is due tomorrow in Town Court.

Lehan could not be reached for comment yesterday, and a message left for the golf course manager was not returned.

While hunting for skunks is not permitted under state law, skunk trapping is allowed, according to the DEC Web site. Trapping season runs from Oct. 25 through Feb. 15, and there is no limit.


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005