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Wildlife officers punished for hunting without license

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Two area wildlife officers have been punished for ethics violations after admitting to taking part in an illegal Tennessee turkey hunt.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Officers Wade Spence and Maj. Jerry (Chuck) Woodson have been punished for the violations which were brought to the attention of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission July 12 by an anonymous tip, AFGC Assistant Chief of Communications Keith Stephens said.

"They were caught hunting without a license," said Stephens. "We talked to them and they admitted what they had done."

The hunt occurred in April in Montgomery County, Tenn., when the two officers went on a hunt on the leased land of a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer.

The two officers were punished Aug. 3. Woodson, a 17-year veteran of the AGFC, was knocked down to the rank of corporal and transferred to Logan County. Woodson had been an assistant chief who had helped oversee the northern half of Arkansas, Stephens said. The area includes Sharp, Fulton and Izard counties. His salary was also reduced by 8 percent and he was put on a one-year probation.

"He could move back up (in rank), but I don't see that on the radar right now," Stephens said. "He'd have to work his way up like everyone else."

Spence was placed on unpaid suspension until Aug. 19. He will be back to regular duty after his suspension ends, Stephens said. He will not be allowed to use vacation or sick days to compensate the loss of income.

In 2003 Spence was named Wildlife Officer of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

"There's a code of ethics that officers go by," Stephens said. "It's something we're bound to."

Attempts to contact Spence and Woodson were unsuccessful.



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