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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2005

Fish and Game employee fired after hunting infraction

POCATELLO (Idaho) (AP) -- A long-time Idaho Department of Fish and Game information officer was fired this week after pleading no-contest to a hunting-related charge.

Harry Morse, who worked for the agency's Pocatello office for the past 10 years, was cited last fall for failing to properly tag a deer. In Idaho, hunters must attach a state Fish and Game tag to the carcass of a game animal immediately after it is killed. The system allows game managers to control the number of animals harvested and to collect hunting fees for harvested animals.

Morse said he was hunting with a companion near Cascade when the two of them saw a deer. The other man fired the first shots and hit the animal, but it continued to run. Both men took more shots to make sure it died before it became unretrieveable.

Morse said the other man placed his tag on the deer, since he shot it first, and Morse later filled his tag with another deer.

Morse said he was later issued a citation by a conservation officer in his office. Morse said he chose to enter a special plea allowed under Idaho law that allows him to acknowledge that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict him, but he admits no wrongdoing.

The plea is treated the same as a guilty plea for sentencing purposes, and Morse was ordered to pay $500 in fines and perform 40 hours of community service.

Morse said he entered the plea because he didn't want to take a chance with a jury in an area where Fish and Game employees are often viewed in a negative light, and because he didn't want to spend money fighting the case.

Idaho Fish and Game Director Steve Huffaker declined to discuss the specifics of Morse's dismissal, citing personnel issues.

"This is a personnel thing and all I can tell you is that Harry is no longer employed by the department," Huffaker said.

Morse worked as an information specialist. He was the agency's primary contact for media, wrote his own columns for local newspapers and appeared regularly on a radio program.

Morse said Friday that he has hired a lawyer and he's planning to appeal Fish and Game's decision to fire him. Morse also is seeking overtime pay for about 180 hours of work.

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