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Lawmaker received threats over feral animal bill

By Amanda Verzello | Posted - Jan. 21, 2011 at 5:56 p.m.



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CLEARFIELD CITY -- A Utah lawmaker has received threats over his bill that would make it legal to shoot and kill feral animals.

Clearfield police are investigating multiple e-mails sent to Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, containing threats over his proposal to change the state's animal cruelty law.

"These people that are so against violence are promoting violence," Oda said.

Police declined to release specific content of the e-mails because the case is under investigation, but investigators have determined the messages are threatening enough to have crossed the line from free speech to criminal action. Officers were alerted of the e-mails Thursday.

It was reported earlier this week that animal activists have expressed disapproval over Rep. Oda's bill. According to police, the e-mails appeared to have come from individual citizens and not any specific group.

Anne Davis, executive director or the Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah, released a statement that reads in part: "The Animal Advocacy Alliance condemns threatening anyone, especially a public figure, and feels that there are certainly better, more appropriate and legal ways to communicate your dissatisfaction with any proposed measure." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement.]

Oda said he drafted the bill to address the needs of rural Utahns living where animal services may not be accessible. He doesn't think there will be a problem with residents accidentally killing domestic animals. "They know what animals belong in the area," he said.

To those who have called the bill "cruel and archaic," Oda asks, "Is it cruel and archaic if you're leaving these animals to be prey to other predators?"

Many representatives have their contact information, including e-mail addresses and phone numbers, available to the public on the House website. Citizens have a right to express their concerns about a bill, police said, but they don't have the right to threaten harm.

"(Residents) are free to express their opinions at any time," said Clearfield Sgt. Kyle Jeffries. "As long as they refrain from threatening the individuals, then they're fine."

Police plan to file the case with the Davis County attorney's office as soon as they determine who sent them.

E-mail: averzello@desnews.com

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Amanda Verzello

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