Evergreen State hunters are joining their neighbors in Idaho in expressing outrage over the case of Jeremy M. Hill, who has been charged in federal court for what he insisted was the self-defense killing of a grizzly on his property on May 8.
Hill was in court Tuesday to plead not guilty to the charge of unlawfully killing a grizzly, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 states. Grizzlies are listed as “threatened” under the law.
The case has attracted angry comments from a handful of animal rights activists, perhaps the most glaring being this one, which appeared today in the Coeur d’Alene Press:
I again restate that the bear is rarer and as such it is more valuable (it’s genes are in short supply) than a human which is disgustingly common.—‘Epock’
According to the newspaper account, a sow grizzly and two cubs entered Hill’s property, located near Porthill, which is close to the Canadian border. His 20-acre parcel is about five miles from a grizzly bear recovery zone.
At the time, five of Hill’s six children were at home. The bears allegedly began attacking some pigs that the children had been raising. Apparently not knowing where all of his children were, Hill allegedly grabbed a rifle and fired, killing one of the bears. The other two ran away.
Hill immediately contacted Idaho Fish & Game authorities to report what happened. His father, Mike, told the newspaper that his son is “being penalized for coming forward.”
Here in Washington, members of the Hunting-Washington forum are furious. Mindful of the problems anyone in this state could be facing with the arrival of wolves and the potential for grizzly encounters in far northeast Pend Oreille County, they know this is not just an issue that is one state border away.
Hill’s supporters have raised thousands of dollars for his defense. He is represented by attorney Marc Lyons of Coeur d’Alene. Idaho State Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint) told the newspaper the charges are “simply unjust.”
“Hopefully common sense will prevail. It’s clearly an issue of protecting the family.”—Idaho State Sen. Shawn Keough
Congressman Raul Labrador, who has made headlines lately as a member of Congressman Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the botched Operation Fast and Furious, is also looking into the case. Here’s what he had to say:
“Clearly, we have a problem with the ESA when situations like this happen. We’re doing everything we can to make sure this man is treated fairly.”
Hill has also gotten support from the Boundary County Commission, but that didn’t stop U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, an Idaho native and Obama nominee, from filing the charge, a felony. If convicted, Hill could be imprisoned for up to a year, fined $50,000 and lose his hunting privileges, according to News Bonners Ferry.
With all of the dust in the air, perhaps people forget that this happened in Idaho and Hill will be tried before a jury of his peers. A lot of Gem State folks and their Evergreen State supporters are hoping that common sense will prevail, because right now, they’re having serious doubts.
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