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.