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Rep. Curt Oda received threats over animal cruelty bill, police say

CLEARFIELD — A Utah lawmaker says he 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 Oda's bill, which would make it legal for people to humanely kill an animal they have a "reasonable belief" is feral. According to police, the e-mails appeared to have come from individual citizens, not a specific group.

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.

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.

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

Police plan to present the case to the Davis County Attorney's Office as soon as they determine the sender.