Ambiguities in the Endangered Species Act have prompted Idaho’s Congressional Delegation to introduce legislation clarifying the rights of individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones from grizzly bear attacks.
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressman Raúl Labrador say the legislation would amend the ESA to permit actions carried out against grizzly bears in self-defense situations.
The Delegation members note that these proposed changes to the law would be a drastic improvement over the current ESA regulations protecting the grizzly bear, which make it possible, but extremely difficult to legally take a grizzly bear in an act of self-defense or defense of another human.
On August 8, the U.S. Attorney for Idaho charged an Idaho man, Jeremy Hill, with a violation of the ESA for killing a grizzly bear on his property near Porthill in defense of himself and his family. The government’s decision to charge and prosecute Hill sparked an outcry from Idahoans, local elected officials and the Idaho Congressional Delegation. On September 8, the U.S. Attorney dropped all charges against Hill, after he agreed to pay a fine.
In introducing their legislation, Crapo, Risch and Labrador note that the ESA was rightly established to protect threatened and endangered species, but that Congress never intended to do so at the expense of basic public safety and the ability to protect oneself or others in the face of danger.
The grizzly bear legislation will be referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which Crapo is a member; and the House Natural Resources Committee, of which Labrador is a member.