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Critics call grizzly self-defense bill redundant

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress is set to renew the Endangered Species Act this fall. One of the hot button debates emerging in the nation’s capital revolves around the killing of a north Idaho grizzly bear.

Idaho’s congressional delegation has introduced a bill on the issue that critics call redundant.

Jeremy Hill, 33, made headlines this summer for killing a grizzly bear. He claims the bear threatened his family and the shooting was in self-defense. Prosecutors eventually dropped federal charges and slapped him with a fine. Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson says Hill’s case shows the Endangered Species Act needs to be clarified.

“They just fined him $1,000 for defending what he believed to be the endangerment of his children. That doesn’t make sense to me,” Simpson said.

The bill Simpson is co-sponsoring would say it’s OK to kill an endangered grizzly bear in self-defense. But critics say the law already allows that. In fact, Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter Defazio says when he toured grizzly country, fish and wildlife managers told him to pack heat.

“I borrowed my brother’s 12 gauge, got a folding stock, took it with me and that was at the advice of federal officials, so I just think they’re creating a fake issue,” Defazio said.

Simpson says he expects to debate the self-defense amendment when Congress takes up the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act this fall.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network