The federal prosecution of an Idaho man who claims he was acting to protect his family when he shot a protected grizzly bear is setting off a heated debate.

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An Idaho man accused by the U.S. government of illegally shooting and killing a federally protected grizzly bear “acted in good faith to protect his family,” a member of his legal team said on Monday. Jeremy Hill, 33, of Bonner’s Ferry, is charged with violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act by killing a grizzly May 8 on his property, which straddles a corridor connecting two declining bear populations on Idaho’s border with Canada.


Hill, who could not be reached for comment, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor last week in a case scheduled for trial on October 4 in Coeur d’Alene. He was charged on August 8. “We believe he acted in good faith to protect his family,” Seagrin Von Ranson, legal assistant for Hill’s attorney, Marc Lyons of Coeur d’Alene, told Reuters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an Interior Department agency that oversees enforcement of the Endangered Species Act for most listed animals, declined on Monday to provide more details in the case, nor did federal prosecutors. “We’re not going to try our case in the press,” said Rafael Gonzalez, aide to Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson.