Boundary County backs bear shooter

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The Boundary County commission on Monday said it finds no fault in the actions of a 33-year-old Bonners Ferry man who is facing felony criminal charges for killing a grizzly bear.

Arraignment for Jeremy M. Hill is scheduled for 10 a.m. today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.

Hill has declined requests for comment from The Press.

U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson, in Boise, announced the charges earlier this month. Charging documents allege Hill shot and killed the bear on his property on May 8.

In a news release Monday, the Boundary County commissioners said they have been working with state and federal agencies for years to see the grizzly bear population recover.

But, “In this case, they’re standing beside the defendant...,” adding that a letter has been drafted to be sent to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, and Idaho’s congressional delegation, asking that the charges be dismissed.

“In this case, a grizzly sow and two cubs were on Hill’s property more than five miles outside any recovery zone,” said Commission chairman Ron Smith. “Jeremy and his wife have three young children, and the bears posed a threat to his family. It is the unanimous conviction of this board that Jeremy Hill had not only the right but the obligation to protect his children and his family.”

The commissioners said Idaho Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officers didn’t recommend that charges be brought.

The commissioners said that recommendation was overruled in Washington, D.C., and a charge was filed by Olson’s office.

Craig Walker, a regional conservation officer for Fish and Game in Coeur d’Alene, said the department’s enforcement officers don’t make recommendations on charges.

“That is not part of our role,” Walker said.

Fish and Game officers do an investigation, write a report, and pass it along to federal Fish and Wildlife Service officials.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Joan Jewett in Portland declined to comment on Hill’s case.

Speaking generally, she said agents with her agency collect evidence and pass it on to prosecutors who make a charging decision.

If convicted, the penalty for killing an animal listed as threatened under federal law is up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

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