This is quite a story. A man charged with unlawfully shooting and killing a grizzly bear in defense of his family, garnered so many supporters at his arraignment in U.S. District Court Tuesday that the judge had to move the hearing to a larger courtroom.
Even in the larger space, however, every seat was reportedly occupied as the man’s family, friends and neighbors vied for a place to show their support.
Jeremy M. Hill, 33, pleaded not guilty to killing the grizzly with a rifle on his 20-acre property near Porthill, Idaho, at the Canadian border.
Because the Endangered Species Act classifies the grizzly as a threatened species, Hill was charged with a misdemeanor.
The trial has been set for October 4 and Hill’s lawyer, Marc Lyons, said he plans to defend Hill on the basis of self-defense and protection of family.
Jeremy Hill’s father, Mike Hill, said his son was concerned for the safety of his children who were playing outside when the mother grizzly and her two cubs happened onto his property in May.
Hill has six children ranging in age from 14 years old to 10 months old and at least five were reportedly home when the grizzly appeared and was later killed.
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.
“The charges are simply unjust,” State Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint), who attended the heargin, told the CDAPress. “Hopefully common sense will prevail. It’s clearly an issue of protecting the family.”
According to her, the community has raised nearly $20,000 for Hill’s defense.
“Clearly, we have a problem with the ESA [Endangered Species Act] when situations like this happen.” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) added. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure this man is treated fairly.”
According to CDA, the charge of killing a threatened species can carry a two-year prison sentence, a maximum fine of $50,000, and up to one year of probation.