A Fairfield-area rancher who shot two grizzlies that were killing his sheep in May was found to have violated the federal Endangered Species Act and was fined $2,000 for the misdemeanor violation.
Rick Christy, 52, shot at the grizzlies and fatally wounded one. An investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that Christy violated federal law because he killed the grizzly in defense of livestock. Under state law, it is legal for a livestock operator to protect property, including livestock, if it is under attack by predators. It is only legal to kill an endangered animal under federal law if it is in self defense.
In an interview after the May incident, Christy said he saw the bears killing his sheep about 150 feet away from his house in a fenced off sheep pen and that the predators were about 10 feet away from him at one point. Christy managed to kill one of the bears with one shot from his .308-caliber rifle. The other bear ran away after the shots were fired.
The bears killed or fatally wounded nine of Christy's sheep, valued between $1,800 and $2,000.
Reprinted from GreatFallsTribune.com