Kangaroo court: an unjust criminal justice system for animals in National Parks?

On August 25th of last year, a man was brutally killed while vacationing in Montana. An expert forensics team was called in to the scene of the crime, and quickly determined from blood patterns next to a half-eaten PowerBar that the victim had been surprised and attacked from behind while taking a break from a hike. His badly damaged body was found partially buried nearby, with wounds indicating that he tried to fight back against his attacker.

A search of the area resulted in locating hair, which was soon found to belong to a suspect in another local killing from a few weeks prior to this attack.  Footprints found at the scene were the same size as those of the suspect in the earlier killing as well. DNA samples were taken for future analysis. The suspect and her two small children were taken into custody.

The case was rapidly brought not before a jury of the suspect’s peers, but before a panel of local experts, including members of the forensics team that investigated the case. The suspect was found guilty even before all of the samples from the crime scene had been processed. The penalty was death for the suspect and life imprisonment for her children. The accused was not represented by a lawyer,  no appeals were permitted, and she was dead within a few weeks of the attack on the unfortunate tourist. Once the DNA evidence had been processed, the detection of another suspect at the scene of the crime raised some doubt that the correct individual had been taken into custody, but it was too late to stop the execution.

How could such a trial happen in the United States of America in the 21st century? We are a nation of laws! We pride ourselves on suspects being innocent until proven guilty!  The answer is simple. The now-executed suspect in this series of grisly deaths was, in fact, a grizzly herself- a grizzly bear. The series of attacks has focused public attention not just on the dangers associated with hiking in areas where large wild predators live, but on the bizarre system of pseudo-justice  used by the National Parks Service to determine what to do with animals that kill or injure humans.

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