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Idaho Fish and Game: Man should be charged for confronting angler

March 17, 2013 at 05:37 PM

The Associated Press

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — An eastern Idaho prosecutor has declined to prosecute a man the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says violated a state law against harassing hunters or anglers by confronting an ice fisherman on a frozen lake and then filing a trespassing lawsuit.

Bonneville County Prosecutor Bruce Pickett tells the Post Register ( it's not clear Doyle Beck's lawsuit is frivolous and declined to prosecutor him after Fish and Game investigated the Jan. 25 incident.

Beck filed the lawsuit against Brandon Harkness of Idaho Falls six days later. It was the second trespass complaint he's filed in four years, the newspaper reported last week. The first was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can be brought back if new evidence is found.

"In my mind, the allegation is that (Beck) has harassed (Harkness) by suing him," Pickett said. "In order for him to prove that, we would have to prove it's a frivolous lawsuit. I don't know that it is."

Fish and Game spokesman Doug Petersen said the agency is tracking the lawsuit and if it's deemed frivolous by a judge the agency might again request Beck be prosecuted.

"This is in no way a dead issue for Fish and Game," Petersen said.

Beck and Harkness declined to comment.

Officials said Harkness walked onto the ice of Gem Lake Harbor from a public boat ramp and was confronted by Beck. Harkness, in a handwritten, signed witness statement, wrote: "I waited for any law enforcement to show up (after the confrontation), which never occurred so I left so as to not have any more problems. I was fishing within my rights with a valid 2013 fishing license."

Attorneys have agreed that it's legal for anglers to be on the lake as long as they don't set foot on Beck's adjacent property.

"It's clear that it's public property," Pickett said.

Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey met with Fish and Game officials on Feb. 28, deciding not to charge Beck.

Petersen said the law in question is Idaho Code 36-1510 (d), originally written in 1987 and later amended. It states, "No person shall: ... Harass, intimidate or threaten by any means including, but not limited to, personal or written contact, or via telephone, email or website, any person who is or was engaged in the lawful taking or control of fish or wildlife."

Penalties are up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,500. Petersen said such a charge is rare in Idaho, but he has heard of some cases.

"It's unfortunate (Beck) is doing this to law-abiding sportsmen," Petersen said. "It is a public waterway."


Information from: Post Register,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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