August 29, 2011 in City, Idaho

Prosecutor releases details of N. Idaho grizzly killing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A grizzly shot by a Boundary County man had approached within 40 yards of his children, who were outside playing basketball, and when wounded, charged at the man, according to a statement by the Boundary County prosecutor’s office.

The statement provides more details about the May 8 shooting. Jeremy M. Hill, 33, of Porthill, Idaho, pleaded not guilty last week to a federal charge of illegally killing a threatened species. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 4.

The case has attracted regional attention, with local and state officials saying that Hill acted responsibly to protect his family. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to look into the matter.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which investigated the shooting, has not released its report. But Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas issued a statement over the weekend, giving this account of the shooting:

Hill, his wife Rachel, and four of the couple’s six children were at the couple’ 20-acre ranch when an adult female grizzly and two young bears appeared on the property. Rachel Hill spotted the bears around 7 p.m. when she looked out her bedroom window. She hurried outside, yelling to the children to get inside the house.

Jeremy Hill, who had been in the shower, grabbed his daughter’s .270 rifle, loaded the weapon and ran outside. Hill saw one of the bears climbing up the side of the family’s pig pen. He fired a shot at the grizzly, which was a two-year-old male. The two other bears ran off into the woods behind the family’s house.

Hill’s shot hit the grizzly. The bear tumbled off the fence surrounding the pig pen and ran off after the other two bears, limping slightly. The family’s dog chased the bear, which turned around and charged at Hill, who was standing by a large basement window under the deck.

“Fearing there was nothing but (him) and a large pane of glass to keep the wounded bear out of his house, Jeremy took aim and fired again,” Douglas’s statement said.

The bullet hit the grizzly and the bear rolled to the ground. It tried to get up, but fell down.

Hill thought the bear was dead. He went inside to calm his wife and children and call the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to report the shooting. But Hill noticed that the grizzly was crawling off toward the woods. “Knowing that a wounded grizzly bear posed a significant threat,” Hill fired a final shot, killing the bear, according to Douglas’ account.

Two Fish and Game officers and a state grizzly bear biologist arrived at Hill’s house within two hours of the incident. Because grizzlies are a federally protected species, their report was forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal charge against Hill came in early August.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Cook has declined to comment on the case.


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