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Bookstore Owner Opposes Griz Stand

Boundary County Commissioners were among many to receive an email Friday from John O'Connor, ower of Bonners Books, criticizing the "shrill" letter county commissioners sent to the Idaho Congressional Delegation and Governor Butch Otter August 22. "I became immediately irritated when I read this email," commission chair Ron Smith (pictured) said. "He showed absolutely no compassion for Jeremy Hill or his family." Titled "An open letter to Senator Jim Risch," O'Connor's letter begins, "You were recently sent a shrill letter from our Boundary County Commissioners, dated August 22nd, having to do with the shooting of a grizzly bear by local resident Jeremy Hill. O'Connor continues: ""The letter was sent without the full support of the community, and obviously before the commissioners bothered to gather important facts about the case"/Mike Weland, News Bonners Ferry. More here.

Question: I'd say book store owner John O'Connor is the loneliest man in Boundary County, wouldn't you?

L.A. Times Spotlights Grizzly Killing

The Los Angeles Times is the latest national mediate organization to take note of the reaction from the shooting of a 2YO grizzly by Jeremy Hill of Porthill (near Bonners Ferry). In an article this morning, reporter Kim Murphy writes: "To understand the deep rift over federal regulation of endangered species, one only had to sit in the stands of the annual 4-H auction at the Boundary County Fairgrounds in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, last month, when 14-year-old Jasmine Hill's handsome pig, Regina, went up for sale." Murphy then goes on to describe how the pig was sold again and again to raise money for Hill's defense in the federal case against him, which later was resolved via plea deal for a $1000 fine. You can read L.A. Times story here (News Bonners Ferry photo/Mike Weland — Jeremy Hill's father, Mike Hill, left, and County Commission Chair Ron Smith (right) spoke with reporters following Jeremy Hill's arraignment August 23 in Coeur d'Alene.)

Question: Have you ever shown an animal at a fair? Tell us about it.

ESA Griz Defense Changes Redundant

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how both of Idaho's U.S. senators and North Idaho's congressman introduced legislation today to amend the Endangered Species Act to clarify that it's OK to shoot a grizzly bear in self-defense or in defense of another person, in response to the Jeremy Hill incident. However, the law already says that - in the very next section after the one the new bill would amend. A spokesman for Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said the bill would “bolster” that provision, but a national species conservation group called it “simply political grandstanding”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Reaction?

Idaho lawmakers propose ‘redundant’ changes to Endangered Species Act

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how both of Idaho's U.S. senators and North Idaho's congressman introduced legislation today to amend the Endangered Species Act to clarify that it's OK to shoot a grizzly bear in self-defense or in defense of another person, in response to the Jeremy Hill incident. However, the law already says that - in the very next section after the one the new bill would amend. A spokesman for Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said the bill would "bolster" that provision, but a national species conservation group called it "simply political grandstanding."

Jeremy Hill of Porthill, Idaho shot a grizzly last May after it and two others wandered onto his property and were seen near his children's 4-H pig pen; he feared his six children were outside playing at the time. He was charged with a federal crime, but it later was dropped in favor of a non-criminal infraction, and Hill agreed to pay a $1,000 fine.
  

Species group: ‘Simply political grandstanding’

Derek Goldman, Northern Rockies representative for the Endangered Species Coalition, a national network of hundreds of groups that support species conservation, today blasted new legislation proposed by two Idaho senators and one Idaho congressman to amend the Endangered Species Act. “This is case of politicians using a single, rare and unfortunate incident to pander to extremists who want to undermine common-sense protections for wildlife," Goldman said. "This is simply political grandstanding by politicians who want to weaken laws that protect our wildlife and wildlife habitat for future generations of Americans.” Click below for his full statement. 
  

Idaho lawmakers’ ESA amendment repeats provisions already in the law…

Here's something odd: I've been hunting for the existing language in the Endangered Species Act that would be modified by the new legislation introduced today by three members of Idaho's congressional delegation, Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, to clarify that people can shoot grizzly bears in self-defense. It turns out that practically identical language already exists in the very next section of the ESA that follows the one the Idaho lawmakers would amend.

Their bill says, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law (including regulations), the provisions of this Act shall not apply with respect to the taking of any grizzly bear by an individual who demonstrates to the Secretary by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual carried out the taking as a result of: 1 - self defense; 2 - defense of another individual; or 3 - a reasonable belief of imminent danger posed by the grizzly bear to any individual." This language, under the bill, would be tacked on to the end of Section 10 of 16 USC 1539.

In the existing law, in 16 USC 1540, there are two clauses, one about civil penalties, and one about criminal violations. They say: "Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, no civil penalty shall be imposed if it can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed an act based on a good faith belief that he was acting to protect himself or herself, a member of his or her family, or any other individual from bodily harm, from any endangered or threatened species." And: "Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, it shall be a defense to prosecution under this subsection if the defendant committed the offense based on a good faith belief that he was acting to protect himself or herself, a member of his or her family, or any other individual, from bodily harm from any endangered or threatened species."

I queried University of Idaho law professor Dale Gobel, an expert on the Endangered Species Act, to find the existing language in the law. "It's in the statute," he said, noting of the bill with a chuckle, "It seems redundant, but other than that, why not?"

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."

Charges Dropped In Grizzly Shooting

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has dropped misdemeanor charges against a Porthill, Idaho, man who shot and killed a grizzly bear in his yard. Instead, Jeremy M. Hill was issued a citation for the May 8 shooting of the male grizzly, and paid a $1,000 fine. A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that state and federal wildlife officials were unable to establish the location of Hill’s children when three grizzly bears were first sighted in the yard, about forty yards from the Hill home. Hill told law enforcement officers that he last saw his children outside playing basketball in front of their home, but that he didn’t know where his children were when he saw the three grizzly bears near his pig pen. The two other bears ran off after Hill shot the 2-year-old male/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (News Bonners Ferry photo/Mike Weland: Rachel Hill and she and Jeremy's six children attend husband/father Jeremy Hill's arraignment earlier this summer.)

Question: Good call by U.S. Attorney's Office?

Charge dropped in North Idaho grizzly shooting

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has dropped misdemeanor charges against a Porthill, Idaho, man who shot and killed a grizzly bear in his yard, reports S-R reporter Becky Kramer; you can read her story here at spokesman.com. Instead, Jeremy M. Hill was issued a citation for the May 8 shooting of the male grizzly, and paid a $1,000 fine.

Cyberspace loose with facts or flat out lying about Jeremy Hill grizzly case coverage

ENDANGERED SPECIES — People want to hear what they want to hear about the Jeremy Hill grizzly bear shooting case, and some of them aren't letting facts get in the way of spreading their agenda on the Web.

My down-the-middle factual column on the issue last week pointed out the various considerations the case brings up as it heads to trial.

Now I'm seeing righteous people lie about what I said to discredit the column.  Here's one excerpt from a Idaho Freedom Foundation blog post by Wayne Hoffman (emphasis mine):

Not everyone is taking Hill’s side. Spokesman-Review columnist Rich Landers was quick to stick up for the grizzly and the feds, writing that while federal law lets people shoot wolves that are threatening people, but not so with grizzlies. … Thus, Landers justifies and gives cover to the federal stance that has enabled Hill’s prosecution.

That's a total fabrication to make it look as though the law - and me, too - would find fault with a person protecting human life. Here's what I wrote:

Shooting a grizzly bear is serious business. The law says a wolf can be shot if it’s actively threatening pets or livestock, but no such caveat exists for shooting a grizzly.  Self-defense or the defense of another person are the only legal justifications for shooting a grizzly.

I clearly pointed out that Hill has legal justification to shoot a grizzly if it was threatening him or his children.

But Mr. Hoffman's words and those of others are circulating quickly in cyberspace for unquestioning people to consume and repeat with no regard for the truth.

IFF: Feds Overreach On Griz Killing

The case of the north Idaho man who faces prison and a stiff fine after shooting a grizzly bear in his yard is another chilling example of a federal government that is out of control, overzealous, overreaching, overbearing and now, threatening the freedom of a father who was merely doing what any parent would do n responding to a mortal danger to his family. Indeed, Hill shot the bear because it wandered into his yard. Out of fear for his children’s safety, Hill shot the bear, and afterwards, contacted Idaho wildlife officials to let them know what happened. And yet, 33-year-old Jeremy Hill is charged by the feds with unlawfully killing the bear, which is protected by under the Endangered Species Act. Hill pleaded not guilty in the case days ago, and Gov. Butch Otter weighed in, sending a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding the incident/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Hoffman that the government reaction to the shooting of a grizzly in Boundary County is "overzealous, overreaching, overbearing"?

Spoof: Mama Griz Subpoenaed

Mike Weland published the following spoof in his online News Bonners Ferry: "In a move that surprised even the most wizened court watchers, it has been learned that prosecutors in the U.S. vs. Jeremy Hill case have, with great difficulty, had a subpoena served on the grizzly sow whose two year old silvertip male offspring was shot and killed in Boundary County on Mother's Day. Professor Henry Brubaker, doctor of jurisprudence at the Institute for Studies and an expert consultant for Tru TV, called the move unprecedented, but brilliant. "She's the only per … er … witness who can testify with any sort of credibility as to her family's motive in going to the Hill property that fateful day," Brubaker said. "She's the only one who can say whether those kids playing basketball were ever in imminent danger." More here.

Question: Is the case involving Jeremy Hill shooting a 2-year-old grizzly cub on his Bonners Ferry property fodder for a spoof column?

Griz Kill Exposes Anti-Rural Bigotry?

Rural solidarity is clearly up against anti-rural bigotry in the continuing debate over federal prosecution of a north Idaho man who fatally shot one of three grizzly bears that wandered onto his property and allegedly posed an immediate threat to his children. The case remains a hot topic among Northwest hunters and gun rights activists at the Hunting-Washington, Northwest Firearms, WaGuns and HuntFishNW forums. Over the weekend, the debate got nasty in the wake of the release of a letter written by Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas in support of Jeremy Hill, who killed a male grizzly back in May, immediately reported it to state wildlife agents, and now finds himself charged with a federal crime. Portions of the letter were quoted by the Spokane Spokesman-Review/Dave Workman, Seattle Gun Rights Examiner. More here.

Question: Do you agree/disagree with columnist Workman that the killing of a grizzly by Jeremy Hill of Bonners Ferry has attracted anti-rural bigotry?

Prosecutor Details Grizzly Shooting

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/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.

Question: A caller to Hucks Online raised an interesting question re: Prosecutor Douglas' statement. Will there be repercussions for the prosecutor for revealing this information before the investigation is complete?

Prosecutor: Jeremy Hill Acted Properly

“In my mind, there’s no question that the Hill family was likely in danger or that Jeremy, by his actions, did what he did in defense of his family and his property. I believe that our local IDFG officers did a thorough investigation and came to the proper conclusion that Jeremy Hill acted reasonably in light of the circumstances” — Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas (pictured) re: the shooting of a 2-year-old endangered grizzly cub near Bonners Ferry. Complete news release from Douglas as provided by News Bonners Ferry here.

Question: Have you changed your mind about this case, after reading the details provided by Prosecutor Douglas of Jeremy Hill shooting the grizzly?

Prosecutor releases details of North Idaho grizzly killing case

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas has sent a letter to media outlets with his account of the May 8 grizzly bear shooting that has resulted in federal charges against Jeremy Hill, 33, of Porthill, Idaho.

Douglas said neither he nor the Idaho Fish ad Game Department was involved in filing charges against Hill and makes the case that Hill never should have been charged.

Click continue reading below to see Douglas's letter, released this afternoon, and details on the case he said he's learned from interviews with IFG officers and the Hill family.

For background:

S-R reporter Becky Kramer covered Monday's hearing in which Jeremy Hill, 33, pleaded not guilty to the charges, backed by a lot of community support.

The S-R's Boise reporter, Betsy Russell, has filed this report on Otter's request that the U.S. Secretary of Interior step in and have the charges dropped.

See my Thursday Outdoors column for less politically popular thoughts on the case from the grizzly bear's side of the story — at least until more details are revealed from the investigation.

News BF: Jeremy Hill Did Right Thing

On Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011, 33 year old Jeremy Hill was enjoying this special occasion with his family. He had no idea that his life was about to change; and all because he did the right thing. After his guests had left, four of his six children were outside playing and shooting baskets in front of the house. His 5 year old daughter Aspen, the 8 year old twin girls Mercedes and Sierra, and his 11 year old son Cameron were engrossed in their play not realizing that three grizzly bears had come onto their property from the trees through the yard at the back of their home, not 40 yards away from where they were playing. Luckily for the children, the bears went after their four pigs in a pen on the side of their log home. Two of the pigs were for the kid’s 4H project and the other two were being raised for food. Jeremy was just getting out of the shower when his wife Rachel saw the bears out of their bedroom window/Mike Weland, News Bonners Ferry. More here. (News Bonners Ferry photo/Mike Weland, of Jasmine Hill's pig, Regena, which sold 15 times for $19,558 at county fair to raise money for father's defense fund.)

Reaction?

Crapo Remarks On Grizzly Shooting

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo's statement about the grizzly shooting case involving Jeremy Hill of Bonners Ferry: "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.  Clearly, Mr. Hill thought that his family was in danger and was protecting them from harm.  I understand that the Endangered Species Act is intended to protect threatened and endangered species, but Congress never intended to do so at the expense of basic public safety and the ability to protect oneself or their loved ones in the face of danger.  The American people need to know that they can protect themselves, their families and property when threatened by federally protected wildlife, and that the government will support their right to do so." More below.

Question: Are you glad/mad that Gov. Butch Otter and the Idaho delegation have gotten involved in this case?

Hill Family Spends Birthday In Court

Rachel Hill and she and Jeremy's six children, including Jasmine, holding the baby at left, who celebrated her 14th birthday by attending her dad's arraignment on a federal felony charge for killing a grizzly bear. Story by Mike Weland/News Bonners Ferry here. (H/T: Duane Rasmussen)

Question: Have you ever lived in bear country?

Grizzly bear case good political stage for Idaho politicians

ENDANGERED SPECIES — An Idaho state senator from Sandpoint and now Gov. Butch Otter have stepped up to chastise the feds for prosecuting a Porthill-area man for illegally shooting a grizzly bear.

This is about as politically risky in Idaho as saying American citizens have the right to bear arms.

But the facts of the case have not been disclosed. There might be a few other details to consider.

S-R reporter Becky Kramer covered Monday's hearing in which Jeremy Hill, 33, pleaded not guilty to the charges, backed by a lot of community support.

The S-R's Boise reporter, Betsy Russell, has filed this report on Otter's request that the U.S. Secretary of Interior step in and have the charges dropped.

See my Thursday Outdoors column for less politically popular thoughts on the case from the grizzly bear's side of the story.

Federal wildlife agents probably couldn’t win a popularity contest in hell, but the jury’s still out on whether they should be condemned for doing their job.