Man Claims Self Defense In Shooting Grizzly; Feds File Charges
PORTHILL, Idaho – Jeremy Hill shot and killed a grizzly bear at the end of May. No one disputes that. But what happened next has galvanized a small town 100 miles north of Coeur d'Alene.
Federal agents filed a criminal misdemeanor charge of killing the grizzly, which is listed as a threatened species. It is a charge Hill and hundreds of supporters in town vehemently deny by arguing Hill shot the bear just feet from his home to protect his family.
Hill's kids were playing outside when three bears wandered into the yard on Mother's Day. Hill killed one of the bears with a rifle and the two other bears ran away. Family friends say the bears were watching livestock in a pen about 150 feet from the family home.
"If your kids are threatened, you're going to do everything you can to protect them," said Mike Hill, Jeremy's father. "It just seems that this is just a waste of taxpayer money for this even to be pursued."
The Assistant US Attorney trying the case declined to comment but said similar charges have been filed as recently as last year.
Trial is set for October 4, but many in the community just south of the Canadian border hope the matter will be dismissed before that.
"In our opinion, Jeremy not only has the right, but he has the obligation to protect his children, and protect his family," said Ronald Smith, chairman of the Boundary County Board of Commissioners.
The group sent a letter to Idaho's congressional delegation urging them to settle the matter.
Hill pleaded not-guilty to the charges at a 10 minute hearing on Tuesday. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and a$50,000 fine.
Approximately 100 people made the two hour drive from Porthill to Coeur d'Alene where Hill pleaded not guilty.
There were so many people in the courtroom, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale moved proceedings to a larger courtroom.
Members of the community have started raising money for Hill to pay for his defense team.
The community raised more than $19,500 at a livestock auction for a pig to help offset expenses.
"The community is solidly behind him (Hill)," said Smith.
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