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Crapo, Risch, Labrador introduce ESA changes in wake of North Idaho grizzly shooting

Three members of Idaho's congressional delegation - Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador - are introducing legislation aimed at amending the Endangered Species Act in the wake of the Jeremy Hill case, in which a North Idaho man was charged with a federal crime for shooting one of three grizzly bears that wandered onto his property; the charge later was reduced to an infraction and Hill agreed to pay a fine. The three lawmakers said their new bill would clarify that it's not a crime to shoot a grizzly bear in self defense, in defense of another individual, or out of “a reasonable belief of imminent danger posed by the grizzly bear to any individual.”

Hill said he was concerned about his children, who he thought might have been playing outside when the mother grizzly and two cubs wandered into his yard near a pen holding the children's 4-H pigs. Risch said, “Everyone who followed Mr. Hill’s case understood that he was not hunting a grizzly bear.  He was protecting his family, which he truly believed was in harm’s way. This legislation will allow an individual to act in self-defense without having to mount a costly defense for their actions, if done appropriately.  This is a common-sense change that needs to be passed.” You can read the three lawmakers' full statement here.

The Endangered Species Act already permits killing a grizzly bear in self-defense. “This just basically adds some more language to further bolster the self-defense language that's in the ESA,” said Lindsay Nothern, Crapo's press secretary. “I wouldn't call it a major change in the law.” But he said the lawmakers believe the Jeremy Hill case showed “that maybe we need to clarify the language in the law, and that's what we're doing.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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