U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson dismissed criminal charges against Jeremy Hill for the killing of a grizzly bear on his property near Porthill in Mother's Day.
But Hill agreed that he violated the Endangered Species Act for killing the bear after he knew his children were safe inside.They gave him a ticket and he paid a $1,000 fine.
Hill had become the latest cause celebre in the long-standing dispute between westerners and the Endangerd Species Act. Idaho’s congressional delegation and Gov. Butch Otter had come to Hill’s defense along with many of his neighbors who raised more than $19,000 for his defense.
“I am thankful that the government has dismissed all criminal charges against me in this case. I received a federal civil ticket and have paid the $1,000 fine to avoid putting my family through the emotional strain and the cost of a trial," Hill said in a statement. "I am glad this issue has been resolved out of court and I am looking forward to putting this unfortunate incident behind me.”
During the course of their investigation, state and federal wildlife officials were unable to establish the location of Hill’s children when the three grizzly bears were first sighted in the yard, about forty yards from the Hill home. Hill informed law enforcement that he last saw his children outside playing basketball in front of their home, but that he did not know where his children were when he saw the three grizzly bears near his pig pen.
He stated that he was concerned for his children’s welfare but, Olson said in the press release, by the time Hill fired the final shot, he was aware that all of his children and his wife were inside of their house.
So when he first shot the bear his fears of the threat to his children was valid. But the third shot was not defensible, legally.
"The bear I shot was badly wounded, and I believed at that time that it would be very dangerous to leave the bear wounded, possibly posing a threat to others," Hill said. "I also thought the humane thing to do was to put the wounded bear out of its misery."
Olson said she dismissed the criminal charge in favor of the citation in part because of Hill’s prompt notification of his actions to Idaho Fish & Game officials. Perhaps the political outcry had a little bit to do with the decision.
“The United States Attorney’s Office well understands Mr. Hill is a concerned husband and father who wants to protect his family,” said Olson.
But she and federal officers wanted to make their point that its not alright to shoot an Endangered Species, especially ones as valuable as grizzly bears unless a life is threatened.
“Anyone who observes or hears of a grizzly bear near campsites or residences must immediately contact fish and wildlife officials,” She said. “Federal, State and Tribal officials are mandated to act immediately and effectively to remove grizzly bears from populated areas.”
I suspect that Idahoans are going to hold her to that.