Maybe it’s time to start a Jackboot Watch feature.
And now, we’ve got the U.S. Attorney in Idaho filing federal charges against Jeremy Hill, a father who shot a grizzly bear on his property to protect his wife and kids — even though state officials who investigated the case thoroughly took no action against the man. He now faces up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine. He pleaded not guilty last week and faces trial in October:
A Boundary County man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to unlawfully killing a female grizzly bear in his yard.
So many friends and family members showed up to support Jeremy M. Hill at his arraignment that the hearing was forced to move into a larger room at the U.S. Courthouse in Coeur d’Alene. Hill, 33, faces one charge of killing a grizzly – a federally protected species.
Supporters said that Hill, a father of six, acted responsibly in shooting the female grizzly on May 8, which appeared with two cubs in the yard of his home near Porthill, Idaho, while his children were playing outside.
“It seems unjust to me that someone would be charged when they were protecting their family,” state Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said after the hearing. “I’m at a loss to understand why the U.S. government is pursuing this in the manner they are.”
After shooting the grizzly with a bolt-action rifle, Hill contacted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
“Jeremy did the right thing, he called Fish and Game,” Keough said. “I think that prosecuting this case really sets back the grizzly bear recovery effort. … People are saying, ‘Boy, if that happened to me, there’s no way that I’d report it.’ That’s a human reaction.”
Hill’s wife and six children – the oldest is 14 and the youngest is an infant – attended the arraignment. The family declined to comment.
Gun rights blogger Dave Workman in Seattle notes the festering anti-rural bigotry (and anti-gun stupidity) rearing its head in the wake of the case.
Having lived in bear country for three years now, I can say with certitude that I’d do the exact same thing if faced with the situation Hill found himself in. Absolute certitude.
Idaho GOP Gov. Butch Otter has appealed to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to intervene on Hill’s behalf. Not likely that Obama’s Loathsome Cowboy Salazar will do anything to help, but Otter’s letter will at least bring needed attention to this injustice.
Here’s the letter (h/t Cam Edwards):
Other Idaho public officials weighed in on Hill’s side:
Idaho’s U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who serves on the committee that oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which filed the charges, also expressed his view Friday.
“I have deep concerns about this incident and the decision of the government to prosecute Mr. Hill, who did what any parent would do in this situation,” Crapo said. “Clearly, Mr. Hill thought that his family was in danger and was protecting them from harm.”
Idaho U.S. Sen. Jim Risch also had to weigh in, suggesting maybe the Endangered Species Act needs to be changed, a long held position of most Idahoans.
“What Mr. Hill did was not a criminal act in the court of common sense,” Risch, a former prosecutor himself said. “My hope is that common sense prevails in this case.”
Finally, Idaho U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador raised questions about whether the law needs changes. But He also had an opinion on the shooting.
“Only Jeremy knows the threat this bear posed to his family and property,” Labrador said. “No one from D.C. or Boise was present to know the circumstances surrounding his actions, but the Endangered Species Act shouldn’t force us to second-guess these types of life or death decisions.
“If the facts that have appeared in the media accounts are true and accurate, then the judgment call Jeremy made to protect his family and property appears to be justified,” he said.