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Fla. Retirement Home Exec Charged With 18 Wildlife Violations for Poaching on his Montana Ranch

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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?

Comments (17)

Top Rated
All Comments
from 1uglymutha wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

"no one should tolerate such arrogance." if this is not a case of "throw the book at 'em" i have never seen one. a good healthy dose of felony conviction will probably not deter these people from their wanton disregard of their responsibilities, but it might serve as a deterrant to others. this one should NOT be pled down no matter how much money is spread around the montana legal community.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

They'll all get off with a slap on the wrist but if it was me, I'd be in jail !!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

If they are found guilty I'd like to see actual jail time. A couple hundred thousand is nothing to these people.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

i wish they would get the FEDS to prosecute under the RICO statute, as it was an ongoing criminal enterprise. that way, if found guilty, the entire ranch could be seized as well as MANDATORY jail time. this guy's wealth and arrogance won't be dented by a $200K fine, but the loss of the ranch and jail would be significant. it would also send a huge message to all of the out-of-state landowners and outfitters in MT to follow the rules.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Give them a fair trial and, if found guilty, give them the maximum sentence allowable. This is an abomination to all sportsmen.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Nail their hides to the wall! I am always angered when I hear about wealthy "executives" who think that the law doesn't apply to them! If they do wind up getting off, I hope it beggars them! I obey the laws, they should obey the laws, no matter who they think they know, how much money they got or who they think they is related to.
Take 'em down a peg, Montana!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Systematic destruction of ecosystems, high fence hunt canners, Cheney shooting someone and not apologizing, these ridiculous poachers...what will Dcast defend next?

Somehow I'm not surprised by scummy behavior from a retirement home exec, going by the way they run those places and treat the residents when you aren't visiting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from AmericanGirl wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The first line of this article is wrong. He is not an executive with a retirement home. His family founded The Villages, which is a community, not a nursing home. So when reading the rest of it, I had to question if any of it had the right information.
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I thought that was the American way.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from kansasjeff wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

to paraphrase Harper Lee:

Taking a deer out of season was a crime punishable by a 200 dollar fine but it was a capital crime in the court of public opinion

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MTmuley wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Regardless of wealth, if they are found guilty of these charges, they all should see some jail time, although I think more than two years would be excessive. fine the heck out of them and loss of hunting privelages for life. It does seem often that the normal Joe gets busted and the book thrown at them whereas the rich and famous tend to get a slap on the wrist. I hope these alleged criminals are treated the same as others.
Personally, they disgust me. They are a black eye on hunting and sportsman as well as those that are wealthy, own land in outdoor mecca's and abide by the laws. I hope that if convicted, that all outdoor/hunting magazines, major newspapers and national news on TV pick it up and let the general public know that unethical hunting behavior will not be tolerated, period.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

american girl-please read carefully. the article calls it a retirement community, not a retirement home. paying attention to details is important. he is in fact president and chief operating officer of The Villages, a massive retirement community 45 miles northwest of Orlando, Fla. he is certainly, under our system of justice, innocent until proven guilty. no doubt about that. however, i can assure you that MT FWP investigators were probably VERY cautious in this investigation, knowing full well who they were dealing with. with so many defendants, you can bet someone will roll over, take a plea, and hopefully help put the "big' fish away in this case. killing solely for horns is an abomination here in MT as well as elsewhere. if, Mr. Morse is found guilty i hope the full extent of fines and JAIL time is applied.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

What you bet that we will never hear a peep out of this case again?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

They need jail time, a fine for someone with this much wealth will mean nothing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bluecollarkid wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Wow, what I hear from many people here is "They're rich! Throw the book at them!" Absolutely disgusting. They're being prosecuted for "poaching" when they were hunting on their own land.

I don't expect you folks to understand the finer points of "public trust" law but the fact of the matter remains that they were on their own land and some jurisdictions take a different view of hunting on one's own land vs. running around poaching on public land. Hell, even here in Maryland a landowner is allowed to hunt deer in and out of season so long as it is reasonably related to crop damage control.

Have we reverted to the times when all forests and wild game are considered the "king's property" and any shooting thereof without express permission is a hanging offense?

Also, what with the mention of him taking some "pretty nice trophies"? As if that alone is a justification for prosecuting them.

More to the point, the penalties for someone hunting game on their own land out of season are way way way out of line. I can understand a fine equal to the market value of each animal maimed or killed but I cannot understand the banning of "hunting privileges" for life or jail time associated with the killing of an animal - afterall, they're property either way, right?

For all the blathering and panting I here on here about "hunting is a right," you boys sure do give a lot of ground to the state and the collectivists who view hunting as merely a privilege that is taken away at will.

I think they should go free and the state of Montana should learn to respect a person's private property rights. I can see how attitudes like those expressed above and those of Montana's fish and game dept. lead people to put up high fences and stock their own game preserves.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

wow, bluecollarkid-in MT, it matters not whether you are the land owner. the laws of the state apply to all equally. just because he can afford to purchase a "trophy" MT ranch, does not give him any right to kill the game on that ranch, that by law are owned by the people and state of MT. his personal property rights do NOT include the game animals that may walk on or inhabit his property. unlike the kings of yore, he doesn't own the game or the ranch hands who work his place. yes, landowners in MT are allowed to handle problem game populations, but only after consulting with the Fish and game. as for banned for life from hunting...that's actually letting the SOB off too easy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew YoungeDyke wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Wow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from AmericanGirl wrote 3 years 20 weeks ago

I'm copying and pasting the very first line of this article: "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.". I did read carefully, and that is exactly what it says.
I believe there's more to this story, and I hope we hear all of it before convicting this guy. If he did it, he should pay. But there's a chance that he didn't. Wait and find out and don't believe everything you read.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from rock rat wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

If they are found guilty I'd like to see actual jail time. A couple hundred thousand is nothing to these people.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from AmericanGirl wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

The first line of this article is wrong. He is not an executive with a retirement home. His family founded The Villages, which is a community, not a nursing home. So when reading the rest of it, I had to question if any of it had the right information.
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I thought that was the American way.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

wow, bluecollarkid-in MT, it matters not whether you are the land owner. the laws of the state apply to all equally. just because he can afford to purchase a "trophy" MT ranch, does not give him any right to kill the game on that ranch, that by law are owned by the people and state of MT. his personal property rights do NOT include the game animals that may walk on or inhabit his property. unlike the kings of yore, he doesn't own the game or the ranch hands who work his place. yes, landowners in MT are allowed to handle problem game populations, but only after consulting with the Fish and game. as for banned for life from hunting...that's actually letting the SOB off too easy.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

"no one should tolerate such arrogance." if this is not a case of "throw the book at 'em" i have never seen one. a good healthy dose of felony conviction will probably not deter these people from their wanton disregard of their responsibilities, but it might serve as a deterrant to others. this one should NOT be pled down no matter how much money is spread around the montana legal community.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

i wish they would get the FEDS to prosecute under the RICO statute, as it was an ongoing criminal enterprise. that way, if found guilty, the entire ranch could be seized as well as MANDATORY jail time. this guy's wealth and arrogance won't be dented by a $200K fine, but the loss of the ranch and jail would be significant. it would also send a huge message to all of the out-of-state landowners and outfitters in MT to follow the rules.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Give them a fair trial and, if found guilty, give them the maximum sentence allowable. This is an abomination to all sportsmen.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kansasjeff wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

to paraphrase Harper Lee:

Taking a deer out of season was a crime punishable by a 200 dollar fine but it was a capital crime in the court of public opinion

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MTmuley wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Regardless of wealth, if they are found guilty of these charges, they all should see some jail time, although I think more than two years would be excessive. fine the heck out of them and loss of hunting privelages for life. It does seem often that the normal Joe gets busted and the book thrown at them whereas the rich and famous tend to get a slap on the wrist. I hope these alleged criminals are treated the same as others.
Personally, they disgust me. They are a black eye on hunting and sportsman as well as those that are wealthy, own land in outdoor mecca's and abide by the laws. I hope that if convicted, that all outdoor/hunting magazines, major newspapers and national news on TV pick it up and let the general public know that unethical hunting behavior will not be tolerated, period.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

They need jail time, a fine for someone with this much wealth will mean nothing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

They'll all get off with a slap on the wrist but if it was me, I'd be in jail !!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Nail their hides to the wall! I am always angered when I hear about wealthy "executives" who think that the law doesn't apply to them! If they do wind up getting off, I hope it beggars them! I obey the laws, they should obey the laws, no matter who they think they know, how much money they got or who they think they is related to.
Take 'em down a peg, Montana!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Systematic destruction of ecosystems, high fence hunt canners, Cheney shooting someone and not apologizing, these ridiculous poachers...what will Dcast defend next?

Somehow I'm not surprised by scummy behavior from a retirement home exec, going by the way they run those places and treat the residents when you aren't visiting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

american girl-please read carefully. the article calls it a retirement community, not a retirement home. paying attention to details is important. he is in fact president and chief operating officer of The Villages, a massive retirement community 45 miles northwest of Orlando, Fla. he is certainly, under our system of justice, innocent until proven guilty. no doubt about that. however, i can assure you that MT FWP investigators were probably VERY cautious in this investigation, knowing full well who they were dealing with. with so many defendants, you can bet someone will roll over, take a plea, and hopefully help put the "big' fish away in this case. killing solely for horns is an abomination here in MT as well as elsewhere. if, Mr. Morse is found guilty i hope the full extent of fines and JAIL time is applied.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

What you bet that we will never hear a peep out of this case again?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bluecollarkid wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Wow, what I hear from many people here is "They're rich! Throw the book at them!" Absolutely disgusting. They're being prosecuted for "poaching" when they were hunting on their own land.

I don't expect you folks to understand the finer points of "public trust" law but the fact of the matter remains that they were on their own land and some jurisdictions take a different view of hunting on one's own land vs. running around poaching on public land. Hell, even here in Maryland a landowner is allowed to hunt deer in and out of season so long as it is reasonably related to crop damage control.

Have we reverted to the times when all forests and wild game are considered the "king's property" and any shooting thereof without express permission is a hanging offense?

Also, what with the mention of him taking some "pretty nice trophies"? As if that alone is a justification for prosecuting them.

More to the point, the penalties for someone hunting game on their own land out of season are way way way out of line. I can understand a fine equal to the market value of each animal maimed or killed but I cannot understand the banning of "hunting privileges" for life or jail time associated with the killing of an animal - afterall, they're property either way, right?

For all the blathering and panting I here on here about "hunting is a right," you boys sure do give a lot of ground to the state and the collectivists who view hunting as merely a privilege that is taken away at will.

I think they should go free and the state of Montana should learn to respect a person's private property rights. I can see how attitudes like those expressed above and those of Montana's fish and game dept. lead people to put up high fences and stock their own game preserves.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew YoungeDyke wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

Wow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from AmericanGirl wrote 3 years 20 weeks ago

I'm copying and pasting the very first line of this article: "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.". I did read carefully, and that is exactly what it says.
I believe there's more to this story, and I hope we hear all of it before convicting this guy. If he did it, he should pay. But there's a chance that he didn't. Wait and find out and don't believe everything you read.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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