5 years, 8 months ago
In what could masquerade as a sad Orwellian novel if it weren’t true, an Idaho man defended his family from a potential grizzly bear attack, and is now in court defending his freedom.
A man charged with unlawfully shooting and killing a grizzly bear had so many supporters at his arraignment Tuesday in federal court that the judge had to move the hearing to a larger courtroom.
Even there, every seat was taken as his family, friends and neighbors, young and old, squeezed in.
Jeremy M. Hill, 33, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to killing the animal with a rifle on his 20-acre property near Porthill, Idaho, at the Canadian border. He lives five miles from the closest grizzly bear recovery zone.
The grizzly bear is classified as a threatened species in the lower 48 states, according to the Endangered Species Act, and protected by federal law. Hill’s charge is a misdemeanor.
Magistrate Judge Candy Dale set trial, at least for now, for Oct. 4.
Hill has declined comment. His lawyer, Marc Lyons of Coeur d’Alene, said he plans to defend Hill on the basis of self-defense and protection of family.
Following the hearing, his father, Mike Hill, of Athol, said, “This whole thing is a waste of taxpayer money.”
He said his son was concerned for the safety of his children playing outside when a mother grizzly and two cubs wandered onto his property on May 8.
Jeremy Hill has six kids, ranging in age from 14 years old to 10 months old. At least five were home when the grizzly was killed, Mike Hill said.
The bears had gone after some pigs in a pen that the kids had been raising, Mike Hill said.
He said his son shot one of the bears, then called authorities to notify them of the kill. The other two bears ran off.
He said his son could have just buried the animal and not said anything to law enforcement. He said his son is being penalized for coming forward.
State Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, attended the hearing in full support of Jeremy Hill.
“The charges are simply unjust,” she said following the hearing. “Hopefully common sense will prevail. It’s clearly an issue of protecting the family.”
She predicted that punishing someone who reported killing a grizzly will damage government efforts to protect the animals.
She said nearly $20,000 was raised by community members for Hill’s defense.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho was asked about the case while appearing in Sandpoint on Tuesday.
While Labrador said he needed to be careful in dealing with the prosecutorial side of things, he did have this to say:
“Clearly, we have a problem with the ESA when situations like this happen.” He later added, “We’re doing everything we can to make sure this man is treated fairly.”
Based on a subsequent report, it isn’t clear whether it was Jeremy Hill or one of his sons who killed the bear, or if it was the mother or a cub. It doesn’t matter. There is a lot of local support for Jeremy, and in fact, Idaho Governor Butch Otter is appealing to Obama to look into the facts of the case.
It’s ridiculous that it has gotten this far. The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether the federal government comes to its senses now or soon, some federal prosecutor (U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson?) made the sophomoric decision to carry this case forward. How embarrassing this decision must be for this attorney.
It is said that exception makes bad law. Perhaps. But failure to address the exception makes for bad justice. Jeremy isn’t a poacher hunting bear in this area. He is a father and husband, defending his children and wife. It hurts progressives to hear it, but man is made in God’s image. Animals are not. The only evil that could possibly have happened that day would have been if Jeremy had failed to defend his family.
When the framework for righteousness is found in the myriad rules and regulations that pass through the Federal Register every day as lawyers promulgate an increasingly burdensome bureaucracy on a hapless American public, America has lost its way, and has forgotten what true righteousness is all about. The justification for regulations has become deonotological, needing no foundation outside themselves, and the means has become the end without regard for consequences or affect. And it is all without heart or soul.