November 05, 2010
Fla. Retirement Home Exec Charged With 18 Wildlife Violations for Poaching on his Montana Ranch
By Chad Love
A wealthy Florida retirement home executive who owns a ranch in Montana has been charged, along with eight others, with multiple counts of poaching game animals on his ranch.
From this story in the Orlando Sentinel:
Mark Morse, a top executive of the Central Florida retirement community The Villages, has been charged with felony and misdemeanor hunting violations in Montana. Morse and his wife, their daughter and five others are accused of 18 wildlife violations during hunting excursions over the past four years on Morse property in Montana. The charges include the illegal killing or possession of elk, deer, and other wildlife. Morse, the president and chief operating officer of the massive community 60 miles northwest of Orlando, is accused of killing too many animals and killing them without proper licenses. "When somebody comes and violates those rules by killing multiple animals and hunting out of season, they are in fact stealing from the people of Montana," said state Fish Wildlife & Parks spokesman Robert Gibson. Morse could be sentenced to 21.5 years in prison and be fined as much as $203,000 if convicted.
The 50-year-old landowner belongs to a wealthy and politically influential Florida family. His father, H. Gary Morse, is a major contributor to the Republican Party and the developer of The Villages, which has roughly 80,000 residents in Lake and two adjacent counties. The Villages spokesman Gary Lester did not immediately return a call for comment. Morse, who owns the M Square Ranch and co-owns the Wolf Mountain Ranch in Montana, has hunted legally in the state before and he knew the rules, wildlife and parks spokesman Gibson said. "In wildlife circles, these are very serious charges and not many of the things we enforce are felonies," Gibson said. "He is accused of shooting some really nice, big trophy animals."
Morse's wife MLissa, 40, is accused of killing a mule deer buck in November 2008 without a license, which carries a penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Morse's daughter, Kelsea Louise, who was recently married in Montana, is accused of wounding a bull elk with an arrow and killing a turkey on M Square Ranch without a license. The 26-year-old is facing a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if found guilty. Calls to Kelsea Morse's last known phone number were not returned. Mark Morse was not arrested but appeared in court in Big Horn County last week after he was charged. He is scheduled to face felony charges in Yellowstone County Court on Nov. 23.
Gibson said cases involving so many alleged hunting violations ˜ and so many felony charges ˜ are rare. Usually, defendants in these big cases enter pleas and pay hefty fines, Gibson said. The Morses could lose their fishing and hunting privileges for life in Montana and more than 20 other states because of an multi-state agreement that bans hunters who violate game laws. Florida is one of the partners to the agreement.
Wow, money can't buy brains, but I guess it can buy arrogance. Your thoughts?