Jeremy M. Hill was outside his home in Porthill, ID when 3 grizzly bears, a female and her two cubs, entered the yard. Hill’s children were playing in the area and, unsurprisingly, Hill believed the bears to be a threat to his family. So he shot and killed the female. Then he notified the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. That’s where he made his mistake. He’s now being charged federal court with one count of killing a protected species. Apparently his children don’t rate that distinction.
“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.”
Exactly. My guess is if he had it to do over again, he’d just quietly bury the bear and be done with it.
Additionally, the charges are being brought despite the recommendations against such charges by the state and US local Game and Fish representatives:
They also issued a news release, saying that Idaho Fish and Game officials had recommended against filing charges in the case, and that local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had concurred.
Chip Corsi, Idaho Fish and Game’s regional manager, declined to comment on his agency’s stance on charges, but said: “He had three grizzly bears in close proximity to his kids, family and livestock. He had reason to believe there was a threat.”
But, as with most faceless bureaucracies, a decision to prosecute was made over the recommendation of the local representatives by a person far removed from the reality of the situation:
Joan Jewett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, said she couldn’t comment on the case specifically. In general, however, “we do an investigation and turn over our information and evidence to the U.S. Attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney makes the decision on whether to prosecute or not.”
And that’s precisely what has happened. Hill is charged with killing the bear and of course now has to now defend himself against the charges. As you might imagine, that’s an expensive proposition. However, outraged neighbors are stepping up to help:
Community members raised $19,558 for the Hill family last week at a 4-H animal sale in Bonners Ferry. Hill’s 14-year-old daughter, Jasmine, was selling a pig she raised named Regina. Bidders bought and sold Regina 15 times, with the final bidder giving the pig back to Jasmine Hill, saving it from a trip to the butcher.
“It was a statement – we’re with you, Jeremy,” said Rob Pluid, of Bonners Ferry, who helped organize the continuous bidding.
Accounts for the family have been set up at Mountain West Bank, Wells Fargo and Panhandle State Bank, said Donna Capurso, chairwoman of the Boundary County Republican Central Committee.
Meanwhile, Hill has a court date of October 4th. A strange and wonderful thing happened at his arraignment:
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.
This is another example of an absurd waste of taxpayers money, not to mention prosecutorial stupidity. Justice isn’t the unthinking enforcement of laws. Extenuating and mitigating circumstances are certainly something which are considered in every case. There are things which happen, such as in this case, which any thinking person should understand mitigate the law’s enforcement. Threats to one’s family fall in that category.
Additionally, when you have agents in the field and charged with enforcing those laws in agreement that no charges should be filed based on the circumstances of the case, you’d better have a damn good reason for proceeding. If I were the judge, the first question I’d ask the prosecution is why they chose to proceed. And if I didn’t get a good answer I’d dismiss the charges. “It’s the law” isn’t a good answer.
Oh, and even if it does go to trial, good luck empaneling a jury that will convict the man.
We’ll watch and report.